It is downright painful to witness the rapid disintegration of the media business that held strong for the last 50 years. More and more, the traditional media model where great content was subsidized by ad revenue, is coming under more and more pressure from the sheer weight of crowd sourced content. The tectonic changes engulfing the media industry leaves everyone in harm’s way – publisher, advertisers and their agencies.
At the heart of the debate is the question of aggregation. In recent months, Digiday throws punches at BusinessInsider for aggregating their content and then selling ad space against it. Bill Kelly, managing editor of the New York Times, swings at HuffingtonPost, as the purveyor of all things evil.
Here’s the thing.
The cherished notion that there is a “sea wall” separating pure journalism from more commercial advertising is trapping everyone in a downward spiral of loss. Yesterday, that model made sense. Yesterday, content was highly controlled and distributed giving the laws of scarcity full reign to create lots of revenue for publishers because brands had little choice if they wanted to engage with these consumers.
But today, the world has changed. Maybe it would sound crazy to suggest that as content creation costs go down (just like bandwidth) another model is needed to move forward. In order for that to happen – some long standing principles need to die.
1) Content aggregation is the enemy.
This particular sacred principle stumps me since for years, the largest publishing companies have been “aggregating” content via acquisition. Content aggregation can act as a platform for publishers and if thought that way – the sky’s the limit.
2) Aggregation does not devalue content.
On a human level, I have sympathy for the depth of disruption to journalists whose careers seem to have been washed away in a breath. The notion that content is changing must be confronted head on – not with collective, digital hand wringing, but with a creative approach that can get great content closer to revenue generation without compromising editorial integrity.
Can it be done? You bet. Creative companies are developing new experiences with the content that puts value where it belongs – on the experience the content delivers – not just on a bunch of words on a screen.
3) Advertising cannot just ride on the back of content anymore to be relevant.
With so much content out there, the notion that ad servers can simply push out ads onto all these content pages is detrimental to everyone. Consumers ignore most ads, agencies turn themselves into creative knots to “break through” and advertisers spend more and get less results.
Breaking through now is about creating opportunities for brands to participate openly and with relevance with the content they are adjacent too.
That was hard in traditional media but in the real time, on demand world of social and mobile marketing of today – you can be free to create “true intent” engagements where consumers click because they want to and not to bat away and intrusion interstitial.
Amidst collapse and chaos, we see rising new ideas of a vital content business model.
Call me crazy – but I believe.