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).