Ultimately, content is a banana and we’re all a bunch of monkeys :: photo by hvhe1 ::
Some loud dude (Ryan Creighton of Untold Entertainment fame) recently posted this article, claiming that content is actually “peasant” (rather vehemently) and that meta-aggregators (he simply calls them aggregators of aggregators) and advertisers are the ones at the top of the commerce chain. I’m going to question that conclusion here.
So. Why would people say content is king in the first place? I think it’s because advertisers, aggregators, meta-aggregators, and, uhm, salesmen (whom Sir Creighton says are the real kings, which we’ll simply call the 3 Horsemen–yes I ignored salesmen) would all be dead without content. That’s a pretty well-established fact. I mean, Creighton is right in that the 3 Horsemen are essentially clever leeches and content producers rather strong-headed asses, but it’s telling how he calls content the “vehicle”–without the vehicle, nobody moves. So there’s definitely some meat to the idea that content is, in fact, king because everything else feeds off of it, and it’s not possible to run it the other way around… unless you want to advertise ads… but then the ads would become content by definition.
Let’s turn this around by asking this: would content be dead without the 3 Horsemen? The obvious answer is “No”. There will always be content regardless of whether or not there’s a way to monetize it. Why? Because humans have a fundemental [sic] need to create. It’s in our species’ best interest to create–it’s how we got to the top of the natural food chain and it’s how we’re going to stay there.
The sad news is that, even from King Content’s perspective, consumers are still at the bottom of the pile. For one, it’s because we will still make things even if nobody pays us to (and that’s still often the case, just take a look at any indie scene), so it doesn’t matter if consumers exist at all. However, I hope they’ll evolve into prosumers; that they actually become more useful in the grand scheme of things than just being “eyeballs”. I think we’re starting to see that trend with crowdsourcing and such–we just have to build the tools that can compile and analyze the data they create in their everyday lives as patterns. We also need to enable them to make meaningful decisions and connections in the things they do in order to steer content to the whims of the people. That way content producers can stay sharp by navigating the dynamic environment that is social trends and consumers will stay interested and support fresh content. I wanted to get into why we should be socially responsible by making content actually useful to people rather than mere consumables (you are what you eat!), but that’s a topic for another day.
I don’t understand why Creighton mentions microtransactions–which replaces ads quite nicely–and still insists ads are going to continue to fuel the heist, when they’re actually on their way out. The ecosystem won’t die, as he claims, but rather evolve, which is nice. Also, he groups TV networks into the meta-aggregator category, rather erroneously I think. They’re content producers with direct access to vast distribution channels (actual channels piped to TVs), which makes them a naughty mix of content producer and aggregator. I don’t think the meta-aggregator category even exists outside of things like feed aggregators like Google Reader as such, but I think that’s delving into the deep, dark caverns of semantics. So let’s just slowly step away from that one.