In My Opinion: Craig McGill: Is Skyscanner about to become a bigger content producer than most Press?

ONE of the things that many people fail to see in the digital age is that it’s not The Scottish Sun versus The Daily Record or The Herald versus The Scotsman versus The Press and Journal; it’s each newspaper verson everyone – and that’s been made blatant by a jobs news report of travel search website, Skyscanner.

It may soon have more content staff than many newspapers or magazines.

For those who don’t know Skyscanner, it’s a Scottish start-up which provides online comparison prices and it saves people a fortune (disclaimer: including me).

It has a simple, elegant design and, quite frankly, just works. It’s understood that more than 20 million people use it a month, there’s been 25 million downloads of their app and latest revenue was £33 million.

And now it looks like it’s hiring at least 20 content producers (as well as boosting marketing) as part of the 250-job expansion announcement.

I would imagine you’ll see travel reviews, restaurant and bar reviews – from focused staff armed with data from the site on what works and what doesn’t and who will be producing content aimed at driving people wanting to travel or book places to go.

That’s the easy stuff. You’ll probably see more emotional, in–depth material, as well about places to go.

There will probably be ‘snowfall‘- type material, some fantastic infographics and videos.

Played well, they could create a great community – perhaps not rivalling Huffington Post Travel or TripAdvisor yet, but the potential is there because Skyscanner has a great reputation online and still has place to develop an unique tone of voice.

And that’s before you consider what else they could do, away from content…

The tragedy for journalism is that Skyscanner – like Google, TripAdvisor, Groupon and so many other offerings – could have been spun out of a newspaper if the industry hadn’t been burying its head in the sand and dismissing digital.

But we now have a situation where Skyscanner is hiring more people than many local papers have as a full team. In fact, there are some regional editions of national titles that would kill to have 20 content producers.

Some die-hards in the newspaper industry will scoff and say people will still need to go to them for news. But news is just a form of information and people now pay for that with time – they give the news site(s) their time. And if Skyscanner has more relevant information (one day it may be providing breaking news from travel areas) then people will go to it rather than the traditional Press brands.

That’s going to be an interesting challenge for all.

What happens when a site like Skyscanner is providing you the breaking information on events in areas like Syria?

What challenges does that present for the content creators – at Skyscanner and the traditional Press?

How does the traditional Press respond to that?

As with all future gazing, the answer is simple.

Keep watching the skies.

Craig McGill has written for – or been a member of staff at – TIME Magazine, The Guardian, Daily Mirror, The Scotsman, Evening Times, The Press and Journal, The Sun and Evening Times. Author of four non-fiction books and lecturer in ‘cross-platform journalism’ at Edinburgh Napier University, McGill is currently the digital strategist (Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland) for Weber Shandwick. You can get him via Twitter @craigmcgill