Andrew Sullivan nails why traditional publishing brands struggle to bring their readers with them online, in a piece about personal migration on reading from print to digital forms:
But it takes guts to actually make the change. An individual can, overnight. An institution is far more cumbersome. Which is why, I believe, institutional brands will still be at a disadvantage online compared with personal ones. There’s a reason why Drudge Report and the Huffington Post are named after human beings. It’s because when we read online, we migrate to read people, not institutions. Social media has only accelerated this development, as everyone with a Facebook page now has a mini-blog, and articles or posts or memes are sent by email or through social networks or Twitter.
In my half decade or so of directly working on migrating existing print titles to the web, I only saw the traditional brand creating sampling, not loyalty. People may sample based on existing brands – they stay (or not) based on the people.
The best brands can become meta-brands, acting as an umbrella under which the people-centric brands (journalists and other contributors) can operate. But so many publishers – and their marketing departments – just can’t make the cognitive leap to understand that the whole structure of branding changes online.