Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Contextual Ads Fuel New Content Distribution And Monetization Opportunities

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"...the value that publishers and advertisers can gain from considering the value of content endorsed on a person-to-person basis has enormous potential."

Content relicensing services provide publishers with steady if somewhat unglamorous revenues from individuals and institutions willing to pay a premium for the rights to redistribute copyrighted content.

Photo credit: Aga & Miko Materne

But what about the untold millions of individuals who forward content via emails to people who they know - with nary a bit of revenues going to publishers?

iCopyright has come up with a simple solution to this long-standing dilemma: make it easy for users to do this using a version of the content that has contextual ads embedded.

It's remarkable that making money out of content passed from user to user is still such a new art for most publishers, but with iCopyright's new program it's an art that may become rather familiar to them.

Photo credit: iCopyright Conductor

Content relicensing has long been seen by many publishers as nice incremental revenue but hardly anything to get excited about. This is in some ways rather ironic given the power of personal publishing that has made users the primary distributors of much of the world's intellectual property via emails, reprint services or good old photocopying.

A goodly amount of this content rolls off the "presses" of institutions keen to toe the line of copyright law at a reasonable out-of-pocket price. In an era of heightened corporate compliance awareness content relicensing services that make it easy for enterprises to respect copyrights do very well indeed, taking in reliable and fattening revenue streams in the process for themselves and the publishers that they serve. Yet most redistribution of copyrighted content via emails and other personal publishing tools goes unchallenged - and unmonetized.

But what if instead of viewing redistribution as a source of incremental revenues through enforced copyright protection publishers began to think about how content redistribution could fatten their wallets in a more significant and universal way?

The folks at iCopyright have been asking this question and have come up with a fairly straightforward but powerful answer: add contextual ads to legally redistributed content and make it free for users to do so.

In cooperation with major online ad networks iCopyright has added contextual ads for users firing off free versions of copyrighted content to friends and associates that have contextual ads embedded in the transmitted version. When the links for the full piece of content are clicked on, the results look like this page.


The publishers participating in this program get a hefty cut of the ad revenues as well as statistics that help them to gauge the efficiency of their ads via content redistribution.

The technology and business concept behind iCopyright's new ad-supported relicensing services is hardly brain surgery, yet it has stepped into a huge void that both publishers and content relicensing services have largely ignored or sidestepped for many years.

If you know that users are redistributing your content like crazy, why not empower them as distribution agents and use free publishing capabilities to get your content - and your ads - into the hands of audiences that are almost certain to consume them?

Mike O'Donnell, the founder and CEO of iCopyright, claims that the response from publishers to this new initiative has been remarkably strong. That's not surprising, given its potential.

But what is the full potential for leveraging users to gain much more powerful contexts for ads and other monetization services?


Here are a few suggestions that you may want to roll around in your own mind:

  1. Look at getting content into the hands of your audience as the beginning of publishing, not the end.
    With many media companies and publishers focused on locking down electronic content redistribution rights via DRM, traditional relicensing ecommerce and other controls there is precious little thought given even now to the concept of individuals as key partners in the publishing process. There is still an enormous amount of emphasis in publishing as being the art and science of getting good content created and distributed by institutions to individuals. Yet the publishing power of users worldwide totally dwarfs any major publisher's ability to get content into the rights hands quickly and effectively. The challenge for publishers is to create content services and packaging that are prepared to treat content's journey from its original source to a first-time user as just the very beginning of its lifecycle of monetization.

  2. Look at the context of highly recommended content as the real gold that can be mined for profits.
    In addition to forwarded items getting read with very high frequency they also carry a high level of endorsement from the person sending them - a "branding" for content and ads that is extremely difficult to replicate through traditional marketing channels. While mass distribution of content via Web sites, feeds and other electronic channels will reign for many years as the primary focus of publishers, a substantial portion of publishing profits are going to move to channels that are user-activated in one way or another. Web sites such as Yahoo!'s, FM Publishing's Digg and Newsvine help users to collaborate on identifying valuable content via portals, efforts that have gained a great deal of attention from people seeking out the next big content monetization opportunity. The endorsement of other trusted individuals is very valuable in general; having that trust associated with people who you know personally is higher yet. The opportunities for these endorsements are fleeting, but the value that publishers and advertisers can gain from considering the value of content endorsed on a person-to-person basis has enormous potential.
  3. Empower users to help initiate the next stage in its lifecycle in as many effective ways as possible.
    The iCopyright system of ad-supported free redistribution is powerful, but what if users were empowered to profit from content redistribution and recontextualization themselves? Services such as Weed's monetization capabilities for shared music downloads have explored this capability for several years now, but it's an idea still considered on the fringes of mainstream publishing. If one individuals' endorsement of content is more powerful than anothers' then it becomes highly important to have systems in place that can reward those users as active participants in a publisher's success. With the iCopyright ad-supported system of content redistribution the question of how publishers are going to empower these users as active agents becomes far less of a fringe issue for publishers to consider.

    Untold sums are being spent to promote Web portal content that is just what a particular user is looking for.

    Yet nothing is more powerful for getting the right content into the right hands for the right reasons than individuals who have specific people in mind for a particular piece of content.

    Publishers will be wise to look at iCopyright's efforts in putting contextual ads in legally redistributed content as a very important step towards establishing user-endorsed content as one of the most potent untapped gold mines that they can consider.

John Blossom -
Reference: Shore [ Read more ]
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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, March 21 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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