Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Future Of Media Is In Content Aggregation, Not In Distribution

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Content and news aggregators, remixers, thematic content search engines and directories, topic-specific curators, newsmasters are the new front lines to where new media publishers, unbundled from the need to be tied to one, unique physical distribution network will be moving to.

The more you will be able let your content find its distribution channels online without trying to own and control each choke point, the least resistance you will be offering to the sweeping transformations that are already shaping the way that people access and engage with their favorite content.

Photo credit: Villedieu Cristophe

This is how new and traditional media expert, Jeff Jarvis, sees the world of media being transformed as we go along.

Networks are all about sharing and being vehicles that facilitate access and discovery of quality content.

"On the "consumer" side, the people formerly known as viewers have taken control of what, when, and how they watch and they do it without commercials."

And when "the audience is on stage" and "your customers are your competitors" what do you do next?

Photo credit: Kristian Birchall

From "Everybody's a network" by Jeff Jarvis:

"In the future of media, which is now, everybody is a network.

In the past, networks were defined by control of content or distribution. But now, you can't own all distribution and content is controlled where it's created. So, I wonder, where's the value and where's the money in the fully networked world?

What is a network now?

Your friend pointing you to something to read or watch is a network. The collection of people putting a YouTube video on their blogs makes a network. BlogAds bringing together 800 blogs for an ad buy is a network. When you subscribe to a collection of feeds, or when you publish up a blogroll, or when you put a tag on your blog post, or when you use a Flickr tag that others use, you are a network.

Networks are about sharing now; they used to be about control.

Networks are two-way; they used to be one-way.

Networks are about aggregation more than distribution; they are about finding and being found.

Networks are now open while, by their very definition, they used to be closed. You join networks and leave them at will; you can join any number of networks at once and content can be found via any number of networks, there is no practical limit. Networks used to be static. Now networks are fluid.

For us, the people formerly known as consumers, this is a better world. We can find the content we want from anywhere by relying on networks we trust because we know them more intimately and they even know us; we are no longer a one-size-fits all mass.

For content producers, which is any of us now, it's also better, for the barrier to entry -- and to the public -- is destroyed.

And for content itself, it's better because the good stuff can be found, amended, corrected; it can live longer and live in context.


The old networks are hosed and they are finally realizing that. Suddenly, the dominoes are tumbling, all at once. We all know the latest signs:

ABC pissed off its old channels of distribution -- broadcast affiliates, cable system operators, and retailers -- by putting up its shows on iTunes and online. Umair Haque says they didn't go far enough and that's true, but I say this journey begins with a single step and ABC's first step was a doozie.

Warner Brothers, in turn, is willing to piss off its channels of distribution -- namely, networks like ABC -- by doing a deal to sell shows directly to consumers via Bittorrent. Who needs networks?


The power of the networks as distribution platforms and brands is diminishing fast. On the business side, the old networks have no end of new competition.

The scarcity economy is over; networks cannot continue to raise their rates even as their audiences shrink, because they no longer control the clock; there is always somewhere else to reach audiences -- somewhere more efficient and less expensive, by the way.


On the "consumer" side, the people formerly known as viewers have taken control of what, when, and how they watch and they do it without commercials.

And of course, the networks face no end of competitors in content, as well.

Rocketboom now has twice the audience of many cable news shows because the stranglehold the networks had on distribution and audience is over.

The audience is on stage.

Your customers are your competitors.


The smart network response to all this is to liquify.

You let your stuff be found anywhere, in any medium and any network.

You let your public distribute for you

Most important -- and this is where Umair said ABC should have been going next -- you should recommend good stuff to people and it shouldn't be just your stuff; you use your relationship, trust, and resources to aggregate stuff and audience across the world of possibilities.


In the old static-network world, it made no sense to send people to other networks; in the new, fluid world, they're going to go there anyway, and so the best thing to do is to help them find the best stuff, redefining the value of a network. And from a business perspective, I argue, you're wise to grow audience and ad inventory across open networks of the stuff you recommend. Umair says that ABC took a good move in unbundling content from distribution but what it should really be doing is rebundling content with audiences:

Rebundling is where value capture will happen - at communities, reconstructors, markets, networks - that direct people's attention to individualized 'casts. This is where branding will be reborn - and where advertising is already being disrupted, ripped apart, and reborn (viz, Google, PPC, pay per call, etc)



But what about the networks themselves?

Where is the value in networks now?

Where is the money?

Some ideas could be:

a) You put together recommended sites and sell ads across them.

b) You create content and aggregate others' content.

c) In a different context, one of the smartest media execs I know proposes another hybrid model that shares ad revenue between destination sites (to give them the motivation and resources to do good work there) and sites that send them traffic (to motivate them to do that)."

To find the answers to these, read on to Jeff Jarvis' visionary post entitled "Everybody is a network" to find and appreciate some of the possible opportunities that may await us ahead.

This is a must read.

Jeff Jarvis -
Reference: Buzzmachine [ Read more ]
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posted by Robin Good on Saturday, May 27 2006, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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