“Time for a digital comet”

I was lucky enough to be asked to participate on a panel at a conference recently. The conference was aimed a professional publishing organisations seeking to monetise their content online. I was looking forward to hearing how many of the thought leaders in the industry were positioning themselves in terms of how to drive revenue from content. At the conclusion of the conference, I was left feeling disappointed, for not only was it obvious that many of the industry stalwarts who should be leading the charge in digital content transformation are the very individuals at organisations forcing inertia into the content monetisation process. Here are the rather sad observations, and (I promise this is true) observations and sound bites from some leading lights and content domain experts:

  • “Content should be monetised thorugh advertising alone”
  • “Pay-for content will not work”
  • “Not many people will actually read content on their smart phones”
  • Mobile payments are a few years away”
  • “It really helps to measure activity”
  • Social media should drive audience to established content delivery sites”
  • “Tread carefully in the social ecosystem”
  • “Stick to what you know”
  • “Only quality content carries a value premium”
  • “Professional content is the key”
  • “Social media ‘likes’ are very important”
  • “Try to re-purpose what you have and eek out every last drop of value”

Well, here’s my take, it is time for some of the more ong-serving internet innovators to stand aside lest they become crushed by the speed of evolution. In one specific case I was actually embarrassed for one of my co-panel commentators who remains locked in a content exploitation strategy that could easily leverage Netscape’s Navigator, HTML on-the-fly and Cyber-malls while using ‘Beanz” to buy content. While another thought that it would be jolly helpful if those jolly nice chaps at Facebook would share some of the data that they harvest from users. Wow – that’s a good idea!

My direct take on the comments are as follows:

  • “Content should be monetised thorugh advertising alone”

Utter rubbish – what i-tunes has achieved has irreversibly proven that people are prepared to pay for content if it is reasonably priced, well packaged and easy to access. Apple have made billions and will continue to do so.

  • “Pay-for content will not work”

Works fine with paper and ink, and as above, it is, can and will work. The trends that we are seeing magnify the fact that people want relevant content engagement that they are prepared to pay for it.

  • “Not many people will actually read content on their smart phones”

I am not even going to comment.

  • “Mobile payments are a few years away”

In short, bollocks!

  • “It really helps to measure activity”

No shit Sherlock.

  • “Social media should drive audience to established content delivery sites”

This really made me angry. Why would I leave an information rich, relevant and real-time content platform like a social network in order to access a dull content site? Sure, that’s the way it has been, but its not the way things are going.

  • “Tread carefully in the social ecosystem”

Sorry, that’s the last thing any self-respecting content owner should do. Get among it!

  • “Stick to what you know”

No, don’t! Embrace every new idea that emerges – frankly, who knows what will work and what will fail.

  • “Only quality content carries a value premium”

Nope – ‘fraid not. Lots of things work in the social context that would simply never see paper or ink.

  • “Professional content is the key”

No, comment and curation is the key! User generated content has far more impact in interest groups than authoritative content. Pinterest?

  • “Social media ‘likes’ are very important”

“Likes” are an unbankable currency.

  • “Try to re-purpose what you have and eek out every last drop of value”

No, re-cut, re-hash and re-align for social channels.

Anyway, I a secretly hoping that a large digital comet crashes into the internet 1.0 planet shortly, such that evolution can get on with the business of evolving without the weight of digital dinosaurs strutting their outdated stuff.

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5 thoughts on ““Time for a digital comet”

  1. Whilst having my usual Friday afternoon random Google search in the Californian sunshine for interesting shit, I came across and have read your ‘Time for a Digital Comet’ blog. Man you are so off the mark on some of this. It would be fair to say I have a more than respectable amount of experience and success in the social media space, both as an investor and entrepreneur. I have some feedback on the key stuff;

    You said, “Social media should drive audience to established content delivery sites” “This really made me angry. Why would I leave an information rich, relevant and real-time content platform like a social network in order to access a dull content site? Sure, that’s the way it has been, but its not the way things are going”.

    I say, this is a lazy generalisation – the editorial quality found on an established content delivery site such as the New York Times will far surpass that found on the likes of Twitter, Facebook or anything similar. It may improve within a forum, a specialist blog and hopefully the likes of Quora etc but the problem with the general web is that it is biased towards personal comment whilst our global media has a political bias – but I would also argue the latter is far more reliable for detailed and informed editorial. The general web is about now, trending and gossip.

    “Only quality content carries a value premium”
    Nope – ‘fraid not. Lots of things work in the social context that would simply never see paper or ink.

    This answer confused me as the “Only quality content carries a value premium” doesn’t refer to print where your answer does. Also, anything that works as a story in the social context would get to paper and ink, if the story is strong enough – as is proven every day. The issue is the appeal of the story and it’s relevance to a publication’s remit. There’s a place for anything and quality will always carry a premium irrespective of what the subject is – the issue is how to monetise it.

    “Professional content is the key”
    No, comment and curation is the key! User generated content has far more impact in interest groups than authoritative content. Pinterest?

    Surely by definition anyone who makes a comment in an interest group would see themselves as authoritative – and it depends on the subject. Another generalisation. Dude, you need to be careful as if some of my journalist buddies start reading this they might take exception. And Pinterest is not only now boring people it’s also not curated by anyone.

    “Try to re-purpose what you have and eek out every last drop of value”
    No, re-cut, re-hash and re-align for social channels.

    That’s what re-purpose means!

    Have a happy weekend whoever and where ever you are.

    DM

    • Thanks for your feedback, and my apologies for not responding more quickly. I think that your points are indeed well made, and I tend to agree with your commentary. The objective of my post was to demonstrate that there seems to remain an inertia among the professional journals to somehow sustain the status quo that exists in the content ecosystem. I guess my take is that the riles have changed, and as such, so must the publications themselves.
      Anyway, Thanks for the comments and indeed, perspective.

    • DM
      Thanks for commenting.
      Initially, you above most certainly do have the right to comment on these matters, and your success in the category is without question – I am a fan of what you are doing within the whole VC/start-up arena, and particularly with regards to your approach to supporting new enterprises.
      Have given further thought to your comments, and have to admit, that I agree with much of what you have written. The conference in question, that caused me to write this blog some 12 months ago or more, seemed to see a bunch of established publishers attempting to ‘rubbish’ the values of user generated content, the voice of ‘authority’ if you was being touted as more important that the voice of the ‘authentic’.
      My point was that social platforms and the content posted and debated within deliver just as much relevance, and indeed value, as the editorial views of established publications – in many cases, more so. You are quite right though in that if a story has resonance, it will find its place in the mainstream, the antics over the past few weeks at the BBC are a testimony to this.
      Nor do I doubt that the quality or reliability of editorial review and commentary will differ from a recognised publication to a social platform, indeed, in many cases, these publications’ political alignment spawn the debates that make the web so compelling and engaging. I am certainly not doubting the value of the content and opinion here, I am just frustrated that in many cases the ‘real’ story is lost in political compliance.
      Agree with your views on Pinterest, although I still believe that interest driven platforms will increasingly challenge the existing social status quo.
      I am not sure that someone would necessarily view themselves as an authority on the basis that they make a comment or post – an interested or opinionated party within an interest group, perhaps, but not necessarily an ‘authority’.
      Finally, your point about re-purpose and re-hash is right, what I should have said is that content/interestsubject needs to be re-cut for social channels, not just re-published/posted in original format.
      In closing, once again my apologies for the delay in responding to you – and as you’ll see, I have made sure to post all your comments, I’d rather be criticised than accused of editorial control; and to this end, I stand by my views that user generated content has just as much value and interest as ‘professional’ content.
      Best, P

  2. I am amused, but not surprised, to see my post removed. Just to let you know I am going to use your post as the basis of a blog about how to identify the Social Media Generalisation Toolbox used by the uninformed and subsequently avoid engagement. You claim to be a social media entrepreneur. On what basis? I will send you a link when the blog is posted. You are welcome to add a comment which I will not remove. As you say user generated comment is more interesting.

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