The Business Of Content

Content is King. It’s a saying you’ve heard countless times… long before Social Media empowered individuals to create and distribute their own content. 

Content is the new marketing. Whether Marketers are thinking like publishers or whether brands are hiring/working with community managers to help them get results. If you can think about consumer engagement at that level, things begin to become slightly less foggy. The idea that you don’t have to wrap your messages and blast them out around the original content, but instead you can create and produce the actual content and keep people engaged and connected as you see fit is – in a way – a whole new dimension to the media and marketing business.

It’s something that the traditional media people are still tinkering with as well.

While attending this year’s Google Zeitgeist conference this past September in Phoenix, I had the pleasure of watching Ari Emanuel (fans of the TV show, Entourage, should know that the character, Ari Gold – played by Jeremy Piven – is based on Emanuel) and Patrick Whitesell, the co-CEOs of WME Entertainment, discuss the state of the entertainment business. It’s fascinating to hear from these super-agents to the stars (movie, TV, books and beyond). There is a truly amazing subtext to the conversation (which you don’t really have to read too deep between the lines to uncover) in this presentation, as they discuss the value of content and the distribution channels around them… and how they are changing.

This is 27 minutes well-worth your time…


When The Web Is Considered An Inferior Media

Going back a few years, the Internet was not considered a credible media source. That changed, but it’s changing again.

In the early days of online publishing (even pre-Blogging) the simple fact that any one individual could publish their text, images, audio and video online created a major stir within the major mass media outlets. In fact, their only defense in trying to maintain control over what the public consumed was to scare the world with stories of online publishers not living up to the journalistic integrity that we have come to expect from our news and media outlets. To this day, there are still traces of this (look no further than the articles covering the accuracy of Wikipedia entries).

Can the Bloggers be trusted?

It’s a powerful thing to say, but we’ve come to learn that the vast majority of Blogs (and the Bloggers who publish them) are overly transparent about who they are, what they’re Blogging about and where their intention is (those who are transparent gain credibility, conversation and audience). On top of that, the Bloggers that do not disclose things like conflicts or when they are being compensated are becoming easier and easier to spot.

…But things are starting to get ugly again.

Yesterday, Paid Content, ran a news item titled, Condé Nast Enlists Web Edit Staff For Samsung Advertorial. Here’s the gist of it: Condé Nast is attempting to protect the traditional wall separating advertising from print editorial by having online-only staffers create an ad insert for Samsung… the use of web staffers was seen as a compromise and a way to avoid clashing with print editors who were considered averse to allowing their own staff work on an ad product.”

Either you’re believing in this digital content stuff or you’re not. You can’t be half-pregnant.

There are a couple of factors at play here:

  1. Making a differentiation between print and online journalism (in terms of quality and value) is downright silly.
  2. By allowing the online-only staff to do the advertorial content, this activity diminishes their ability to be considered credible (today and tomorrow).
  3. The overall action creates a bad moral compass for the company’s ethics of journalism at a macro level (it’s sounds like they’re looking for some kind of ethical loophole).

The Web is not an inferior media.

The sooner that brands, advertisers and publishers stop treating the Internet like the red-headed step child of the media and marketing mix, the sooner they’re going to be able to better understand how they can connect and build their brand in this new world where consumers are connected, looking for real interactions between real human beings and are, ultimately, not just a passive audience, but active participants, voices and community members. Publishers aren’t the only publishers anymore. People are now also publishers and brands (and Marketers) are publishers too. So, we need to change our code of ethics around editorial content and advertising, and not just look for loopholes and ways to capitulate.

What do you think?