Posts about big

Who wants to own content?

I obnoxiously ask who wants to own content from the media-company perspective. That question is usually asked, of course, from the creator’s perspective. On-Demand Media, a good blog, asks it from the consumer’s perspective:

Bill Gates says that CDs and DVDs will be the last physical form of media. I’ll go further and say: soon consumers won’t even be caring about owning files….

What does owning media let you do? It lets you play what whenever you ‘own’, provided you have the right devices, the media is handy, etc.

Now what if someone came and offered you a way to carry on with your practice, i.e. to be able to play what you ‘own’ whenever you want, in perpetuity, without having to worry about downloading, synching, or copying files (or worrying about physical media, of course)?…

What counts is the practice, not the thing.

Yup, life is about verbs. Or at least the internet is. And media should be.

A truly open ad marketplace

Fred Wilson wants a transparent ad marketplace:

But there are some things that aren’t yet right about this market.

For one, there really isn’t true price transparency. And there isn’t true performance transparency….

And as I alluded to in the previous paragraph, it is not yet possible for any publisher to run any ad as long as the price and terms are acceptable to both parties. There are a few places where this happens in the online advertising market, like affiliate networks and paid search (sort of). But there are many more places where the advertisers and publishers are contained in walled gardens.

So, I believe that right now, we have a marketplace, but it’s a nascent marketplace.

The thing that gets me so excited, though, is that is so clear where all of this is headed.

Toward massive liquidity

Toward total price and performance transparency

And toward a completely open marketplace where anyone can run anyone’s ad campaign.

And in the process, we will build something that is easily a factor of 10 and maybe a factor of 100 of where we are today.

So, let’s make it happen.

Well, Amen. This is what I was pushing for starting in March with a proposal for an open-source ad call and there is movement in some quarters on this. We need:

1. Open-source metrics — measuring not just traffic but influence and more — with open reporting.

2. An open-source ad call so any advertiser can put together an ad hoc network of the best sites, so any publisher can join the best ad campaigns, so any network can extend reach with any sites for any campaigns.

3. An auction mechanism to match buyers and sellers.

4. The ability to layer on top of this analystics and trust networks (i.e., specifically approved sites that meet advertisers’ needs).

This will be the real Google slayer: an open, transparent, virtually frictionless marketplace where buyer and seller can find and deal with each other openly and where buyers get more value because of greater efficiency and sellers get more value because they sell more than just the words on their pages: They sell their influence, authority, relationships, trust.

Yes, let’s build it.

Local ain’t easy

Brad Feld invested in Judy’s Book, yet another effort to get people to submit reviews of local merchants and such. Fred Wilson concedes that the same issues folks like me raised with Riffs hold for Judy’s Book. Judy’s Book tries to encourage people to submit reviews by having them earn coffee cards and iPods — paying them, in other words. Paying for contributions is great. But it just indicates that it is otherwise difficult or impossible to get people to contribute content. And I’m not sure this will scale any better than previous efforts have.

I go to the North Jersey page and the questions I see are about earning those spiffs, not about good Mexican restaurants. And even if I did find those reviews, I don’t know who these people are; I don’t know whether to trust their taste. So such efforts have two problems: Getting enough contributions — which is a lot of contributions, since you’ll want to cover most vendors in most areas — and then worrying about the quality (aka trust) of those contributions.

Feld says part of the reason he invested in Judy’s Book is because it comes from Andy Sack, who created the very similar Abuzz, which was a success … well, at least it was for Sack and his investors (including Feld). But Abuzz was bought by the New York Times Company and proceeded to be a bust. There were efforts to get us involved when I was working at Advance and I resisted them all for the same reasons then as I do now:

1. It’s hard to scale local.

2. It’s hard to convince people to contribute content to me when they can now control content on their own.

If, instead, you can find ways to harness (aggregate, link to, make searchable, whatever) the content that people create under their own control and connected with their own identities (aka trust), then I think that will be superior.

There are models for local that may work, just not in a neat, centralized way. Baristanet is one. NashvilleIsTalking is another. Both leave control and content and trust and identity at the edges.

If you can figure out a way to enable that — with search, functionality, ratings of the raters, and revenue — then I think you’ll have a winner. Until then, I will wish luck to Judy’s Book and Riffs and other such services. But I think you’ll be just a centralized waystation on the path to a distributed future. Think edgey.

Media 2.0 101

I let Umair Haque’s Bubblegeneration blog pile up like unread, guilt-inducing copies of The Economist and The New Yorker and anything Clay Shirky writes because it takes time to read and let sink in what he has to say. So here’s my homework, Umair on:
* Media 2.0
* Peer production.
* Edge Competencies.
* Network economics.
* The fabled attention economy.
* And here’s a current post on edge compentences and newspapers, which warns:

Newspapers are canaries in the coal mine. The economic shift that is disrupting the structure of the media industry is deep and pervasive; within the next five years, it will touch all consumer-facing industries. What’s happening to newspapers should serve as a warning signal to players across markets that the deep economics of consumer-facing businesses are undergoing radical change: change as fundamental as that which marked the shift from the industrial to the knowledge economy. To understand this change, let’s define the problem the news market is facing.

The publishers, like the rest of the media industry, are facing a radical shift in industry economics; a structural disruption. Barriers to entry have been vaporized, as have switching costs. At the same time, the market power newspapers could exert over content creators and advertisers is eroding….

News executives must invest in the new media value chain. … What are the segments of this new value chain? As we’ve outlined, microplatforms allow prosumers to create personal media. Smart aggregators syndicate and distribute it. Reconstructors build individualized ‘casts of media for communities of connected consumers….


The Customer Evangelists report that Amazon is experimenting with product-information wikis (more here) so we the customers can share and update information on products for sale. Damned smart. The evangelists also make some good suggestions.

: Rob Hof has more.