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How 4 Media Companies Approach Their Business Models

Kavi Guppta

The demise of tech media company GigaOm has sparked a huge debate on the business models that are shaping the new media landscape. In this post, we’ll take a look at how GigaOm and three other companies implement their own unique approaches to redefining business models for media organizations—either to tackle a new approach to advertising revenue, or to expand current value propositions.  

In order to redefine revenue streams, the four companies we look at below are also trying to reshape how audiences will interact with their services and become customers through other means.

Let’s plot them out on our business model canvas.


GigaOm spread itself thin and created different value propositions for numerous customer segments. Editorial was GigaOm’s strongest and most scalable offering because of staff and expertise in the area. GigaOm events were moderately scalable but required new resources to implement. Its research division was the least scalable—requiring an entirely new sales force and team of analysts to deliver its analytics product.


Buzzfeed focused its efforts and resources on understanding how huge traffic generation can drive its ad-based business model. Data is the key to Buzzfeed’s success, and the organization is determined to understand why some content works and why some content fails.


LinkedIn took the GigaOm approach; but instead of going down too many roads, the social network focused on developing a feature that complements its existing offering. Through an army of influential content contributors (CEOs, politicians, and thinkers), LinkedIn increases engagement to its channel outside of job searches. No new editorial staff, just enthusiastic personalities that have something to say about careers and staffing.


Forbes is working toward the same model as Buzzfeed. The magazine’s approach has been to step up digital content publishing through editorial staff and a large contributor system, thereby increasing ad views. The only difference here is that Forbes still has a costly print business to maintain.


The lessons being learned here aren’t just for organizations in the media industry:

  • When we review these four models, we can actually see a lot of similarities across the different companies.
  • A solid understanding of customers, channels, and how those elements can influence revenue streams are important factors for any industry to consider.
  • Many of these companies have had to venture into completely new offerings to realize revenue opportunities (LinkedIn moving into content has so far proven to be useful to the social network).  
  • Be weary of spreading your value proposition too thin. GigaOm ventured into three different areas as a media company, whereas Buzzfeed, LinkedIn, and Forbes have focused on improving one component of their models. 

What types of similarities have you encountered when determining different business models?

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