Posts from September 17, 2004

Media value chains

Media value chains

: Tim Oren has an incredible post looking at the dissipating value of media bundles in this atomic age of media when the essential element of content is (to paraphrase former blog empress, now kitchen empress Meg Hourian) no longer the network or the publication or even the show or the page but the post. Tim looks at how consumers are unbundling media and how attacks on credibility (see: Rather) accelerate the unbundling and the loss of value.

Being a VC, Tim then wants to start the discussion about new ways to create new value. I can name a few. But first, there’s more to say about that dissipation of value.

If the network or the newspaper or the magazine or the cable system was the old bundle, the internet itself is the new bundle: In this medium of extreme control, we each put together whatever bundle we want.

I have taken to calling Google the content brand killer. People go to content galore via Google. But because it’s so easy to get there, they often don’t even notice — let alone recall, let alone value — the brand of the actual provider of that content. Why should they? Google got them what they wanted.

This accelerates the commoditization of content. It also provides opportunities for those who can add value (and convenience and perspective and even fun); more on that another day…

There is also the matter of distributed content and advertising. Used to be, we waited for the news to come to us, on our doorstep or when the clock ticked 6 on TV. Now, the news waits for us to come to it; we get the nugget of news or content we want from any of many sources. The same will soon be true of advertising — of the process of putting a buyer and seller together. eBay and Craig’s List and Monster have had a major impact on old, bundled Big Media — but even these new upstarts will fall, for all they really did was replace old marketplaces with new and cheaper marketplaces. In a distributed, networked world, it’s the marketplace that will disappear. I’ve written about this before: Put your resume online with standard tags (speaks: C++, German; in: New York; status: unemployed….) and soon some specialized successor to Google — a resume engine — will find that resume wherever it exists. It no longer needs to go to a marketplace; the market comes to it. Ditto jobs. That is our new distributed world. There is value that can be added in this transaction as well; that, too, I’ll save for another day.

Now add technology: The mouse, the remote control, RSS, and the soon-to-exist TiVo-of-anything-digital-anywhere makes bundles for us so we don’t have to pay someone else to bundle. So technology adds value and many will make money at that, though only until the next technology comes along. And technology won’t solve all problems (see how TiVo recommends gay channels if you dare to watch gymnastics; you won’t believe what Amazon pushes on me after I ordered one book about Yiddish and another about pianos plus some books for my kids).

People help. That’s why weblogs have become popular: We read so you don’t have to; we click on your behalf; we bundle for you. There’s incredible value to be built there; that, of course, is for another day.

Finally, look at how advertising will be turned on its head. In a distributed world, it won’t come to us; we will go to it. I’ll spare you that rant today; see this post on Love Ads.

In this new distributed, unbundled, post-marketplace, molecular, commoditized media world, value can be added in many ways. It’s about relationships. It’s about relevancy. It’s about service. It’s about uniqueness. It’s about perspective.

I gotta go buy Tim a beer and talk this over….

: UPDATE: Rex Hammock disagrees (though quite agreeably).

Rathergate, the timeline

Rathergate, the timeline

: Ernie Miller just created an incredibly detailed timeline of CBS’ response to Rathergate. (This is what I mean when I say it’s hard to catch up on this story.) Just saw PowerLineBlog on FoxNews and now former CBS correspondent Liz Trotta is on the channel saying she’s “salivating at the thought of Dan Rather giving a Richard Nixon Checkers speech.”

We’re mainstream, too

We’re mainstream, too

: I hate that everyone is starting to call established media “mainstream media” (MSM, to its friends).

That assumes that bloggers aren’t mainstream. We are.

I’ve taken to calling the big guys “big media” (and we’ll ignore the joyful abbreviation). That works for me, at least for now (until we get big). You could call them “institutional media.”

But let’s not cede the turf of the mainstream. I argue that as blogs grow, they take on the wisdom of the crowds and, in sum, will represent the mainstream better than any institution that purports to represent the mainstream.

I say we’re citizens’ media. They’re big media.

: Jay Rosen has taken to calling Big Media “legacy media.” Maybe. But I don’t think any medium is cut off from its forebears; the legacy will continue through blogs to the next thing.

Ed Cone in the comments goes for “corporate media” v. “personal media.” But look at Gawker Media; it’s a corporation already but it’s made of blogs and bloggers. I don’t think business structure does it.

Another poster still likes “old” v. “new” media. My problem with that is that we’re new today but tomorrow we, too, will be old (and something else will be new).

SUNDAY UPDATE: Jay Rosen adds in the comments:

Interesting discussion. Actually, Jeff, I was writing about the appearence of “legacy media” as a sign ‘o the times, zeitgeist thing. I haven’t taken to using the term myself.

One of the things I dislike about the blogosphere is that it comes up with inelegant names that grate on the ear; “blogosphere” is one. MSM is another. In sorting through the suggestions here, there are two different scales to use: one is insight (descriptive power) and the other is elegance (economy + beauty = elegance).

Institutional vs. personal is the most descriptive pair of terms. Old vs. new media is probably the most elegant.



: Everybody’s wringing hands today over which poll is right and which is wrong and why as they all show widely different predictions for the fall. (See the WSJ’s Al Hunt here; free link.) There’s lots of talk about likely vs. registered voters and demographics and all that.

I have a much simpler theory for the disagreements:

Voters are gaming the pollsters.

Just as voters started taking pride in gaming exit polls, now I’ll be a high proportion plays with pollsters’ heads. It’s insurgent citizens’ media. But it’s just a guess — as good as any other guess.

Heels click, too

Heels click, too

: The WSJ says [not a free link] the fashion industry is in a swivet worrying about who’s going to set hem trends now that Sex and the City and Friends are off the air.

That’s an interesting cultural/marketing issue that goes beyond product placement. It’s a meta level above that: Trend placement.

If there are no shows pushing fashion trends and pushing consumers to buy new clothes — if we have nothing but All Survivor All The Time — then the fashion industry suffers.

In the old days, Procter & Gamble underwrote shows — not just soap operas but also Northern Exposure — to make sure it had an environment for its advertising to speak to its consumers. These days, major advertisers are getting direct product and brand placement in shows, like Mattel in The Apprentice.

Now take this to the meta level and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see major trend-sensitive advertisers and industries — fashion, auto, entertainment, electronics — underwriting programming not to place ads or products but to hope that these shows can still push the trends that push purchase.