Musings on the Future of Content

There is an oversupply of quality content in the world.

Today, not only do the professionals produce content but also so do all of us. For instance, this blog is being written, published and promoted (via Twitter and Facebook and Linked In and via organic search on Google) without Mr. “Content is King” Murdoch.

In addition, to reading rank amateurs like this writer, all of us have access to content from all over the globe. I can watch NDTV a favorite channel of mine from India or read the largest circulation English newspaper, “The Times of India” wherever I have Internet access. Marketers are putting huge swathes of world class “owned content” on line.

And I can go back in time and access the most compelling creative experiences in history or see and understand great pieces of art. Try searching for “ Coltrane” on You Tube or look for “ Saatchi Online” which links you to a cross section of the world’s artists and museums. The greatest novels of the world and the works of Shakespeare or Arthur Conan Doyle are also available for free.

It is not content that is rare. It is not compelling content that is rare.

It is time that is rare.

Who can curate, combine and help us discover this content so we can make the most of our time? Who can get us things at the right time not just in real time?

Thus the content producers of the world instead of being in thrall to Hollywood and New York (which will continue to be highly important) should take of their blinders and look wider and broader.

Look for the folks who help us curate, discover and combine content. In the US it may be Apple via iTunes, Google via its search engine, You Tube and Google Reader, Facebook with its social graph, Twitter with its streams or Amazon and Netflix with their recommendation engines. These brands and firms have greater economic value than the entire “king” content companies.

Outside the US it may be Baidu, Sohu or Tencent in China, Okrut in Brazil and often Google and Facebook and Twitter too.

Producers of content should pay close attention to their platform, discovery and device strategy as the world evolves.

How do they program not just for CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC and the usual suspects but also for Netflix, Hulu and iTunes among others.

And for TPN which is “The Peoples Network”. This is the world of Facebook, You-Tube, Twitter and more.

These are major platforms of today and the future. How does the content get discovered? What is their search engine and social media strategy? And finally how does their content show up in a world of devices like Tivo, Xbox 360, I-Pad and Android Operating System phones.

The economy has improved thankfully. The television market is strong. The traditional content players are strutting about like puffed up ostriches.

Be careful.

The trend.

Is not your friend.

The “content “ business is forever changed.

It is more global. It is more democratic. It is more live and right time. It is driven as much in Silicon Valley, Mumbai, Shanghai and Seattle as NY or LA or Paris.

Let us all think about the future of content and recognize that it will no longer fit in the containers of the past whether it be the “television network:, “ the music album” or the “windowing” revenue plot of studios.

On the other hand the new tools allow for deeper and different story telling, information sharing and much more.

Think Curation, Discovery and Combination.

Think Platform, Software and Device.

Think broader and deeper.

Think different.

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6 responses to “Musings on the Future of Content

  1. Pankaj Sampat

    JUNE 26, 2010 (0130 IST)

    You are right – the world is suffering from content overload… this was happening slowly at the beginning of the decade but the pace has increased phenomenally in the last 2-3 years.

    In trying to separate the grain from the chaff, various channels have come up to enable users to access the information they want.

    But now there are so many channels that the user is again wasting time and energy to visit several channels !!!

    Balancing the need for information and the need to use the information is going to be crucial to efficient working

    Otherwise we will land up in a situation where despite all the information available, we will not be able to ACT on it because we are busy accessing the information !!

    Changing work-style from collecting ALL information to thinking & acting on SOME information will probably be the way to go. Maybe we will make mistakes because we did not collect ALL information but the consequences of those mistakes will probably be less than NOT ACTING at all !!!

  2. Hi Rishad, completely agree with your comments about thinking about content form and optimising / tailoring for the platform, but also believe there is great content out there that hasn’t found an audience and average content that has been seen by millions. On the web ‘quality’ of content does not necessarily equal ‘quantity’ of attention.

    Social pass on helps things to spread, but what gives it momentum in the first place? Search Engines etc help users to find what they are looking for so optimisation for the discovery engines is important, but what prompts the Search journey in the first place?

    Exposure through a mass platform drives subsequent online behaviour (Idol on TV leading to the Googling the contestants etc, World Cup prompting people to tweet and so on.) There’s an irony that as the world looks towards ‘owned’ and ‘earned’ and organic impressions then the need to pay to shout / point people in the right direction arguably becomes greater (at least at the beginning.)

    Pay to promote a YouTube channel / Facebook page, /Twitter account etc and recruit fans / followers. It then makes it much easier to pursue the deeper and different story telling – you have a consumer fan base that you can take content to, rather than relying on consumers coming to you every time to check if you have something new.

    There is a new content landscape but there is also the traditional mass marketplace too. The most effective results will be from those who work out how best to master and integrate both. In my head the battleground is fairly clear – can the old dogs master new tricks before the new dogs master the old ones? !

  3. Nick

    The good news is we have both types of dogs in the hunt. Challenge is to make sure they don’t eat each other and get distracted from the hunt itself!

  4. Rishad — I’ve agreed with your content-view for a long time, but hadn’t boiled-it-down like you’ve done here — thanks for distilling…

    Every day at work I think about your last four lines (we’ve put them all to practice) — but with one caveat, for local media.

  5. Hi Rishad, I agree that there’s an overload of content and scarcity of time – however, most the content available on the www is not universally engaging. majority is still anglosaxon and other nations should do as much effort to provide culturally-relevant content designed for the web and the different platforms.

  6. Pingback: Best web reads of the week « The DIG INDIA blog

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