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  • The digital citizen 3:00 pm on November 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Huffington Post, online, paid content   

    Paid for content: a recipe for failure 

    As the digital world is divided on the paying/non paying for online content debate, the real world is not really that divided. About 91% of the population have said it clearly: they are not paying.

    And they shouldn’t. The internet was created to enable the free and fast exchange of information and its free nature is the reason behind the internet becoming the people’s medium.

    Here are some reasons why people will not pay:

    The internet has given people options. In the past we had to rely on a few sources to get information and analysis. Nowdays, there are millions on online sources we are visiting to get the information we need, not necessarily the good old press turned online titles. The Huffington Post recently overtook the Washington Post  in unique users, but did anyone either know off or was in a position to predict that a blog could achieve this level of popularity a few years ago?

    The internet has also made us more demanding when it comes to free. We reacted to the high prices of music and chose piracy. Eventually, the record labels had to admit defeat and compromise their trading models in order to survive. The same kind of reaction is expected when major UK titles, such as the Times Online, implement the paid for content, although this might not include piracy to that degree necessarily. All this model could possibly achieve is giving the change to smaller but equally good sites to shine, as people will be looking for alternative sources to get their informations. And, as the swift towards the free will increase, there will be more advertising income available to the smaller sites, which they can invest to get hold of the required resource to sustain the success of their sites.

    Piracy is easy online. What would happen if tv channels opted for a paid for model for their online content? Be 100% sure that people would find a way of getting this content for free, whether this would be by legal or illegal means, and they should not be held responsible for that. If publishers have made the mistake and granted people certain rights, then these rights cannot and should not be taken back. I am not supporting piracy but paid for content encourages it.

    It is true that many online titles are losing money and it is not the free model which is responsible for that. It is rather the fact that these titles failed to capitalise on the amount of people visiting their sites daily by means of advertising. It was their own lack of flexibility and innovative thinking that drove advertisers away from them. They failed to see how the internet was changing and the efforts to adopt a more social face failed as they seemed as forces efforts to be trendy rather than sincere efforts to engage with their audiences. By charging for content that can be obtained elsewhere will only make things worst for them, as they will start losing the advertising income which, until now, they had taken for granted.

    Is there a solution? Well, my opinion is that there is only 1 industry that makes big cash from the internet, and this is the internet provider industry. What makes it ironic is that the industry would not be booming if there weren’t for this great online content.

    Also, for anyone who works in the online advertising industry, they would know by now that the cost per thousand model does not work for anyone. I tend to commit most of my budget to whoever agrees to work on my agency’s cost per engagement model, as this is an indication that the publisher will work harder for their money. There is a need therefore for brave trading decision moving forward. And the time has come for publishers to prove everything they have been claiming regarding their audiences.

    Finally and most importantly, online can’t be allowed to become the scapegoat for the years of faulty business by the publishers. But still, I can’t wait for their panicking reactions to people looking for (and finding) the same quality in free environments.

  • The digital citizen 5:35 pm on September 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Content, , Technorati   

    Original Content? 

    Thechnorati announced that it will start producing original content from next month.

    Technorati claims that this is a great opportunity for writers to get exposure, whilst the site is entering a new area of sharing content and of rewarding contributors for it.

    Many bloggers, new and experienced, will seize this opportunity and some great writers are soon to get the credit they deserve.

    But how original can this content realistically be? And if it is original, what impact could this move have on Technorati’s reputation?

    The answer to the first question is clear. Content cannot be fully original, because any site and especially one of the size of Technorati, has a social obligation and an obligation towards its users to respect the rules of journalism. Therefore, before published, the content will have to be checked not only for insulting or politically incorrect material but also for the the accuracy of any data given and sources quoted, for the site to preserve its credibility. Which brings me to my second questions.

    Robert Preston’s blog is my trusted source of information for business news, whereas for film reviews I choose Time Out. In the same sense, Technorati is a trusted source of information, learned opinion and analysis for its users. Their credibility was gained over the years by consistency, unbiased opinion and quality writing. Publishing original content on Technorati might have a negative impact on its credibility, with its users turning away from a site written by amateurs.

    As we are already seeing the impact of the revolution brought by social media, businesses (and Technorati is a business) should ask: where do we draw the line between quality and quantity? Between professional and amateur? Expert and having a interest?Business sustainable and unsustainable?

    But then…these are questions that only the public can answer, with its reaction to the content of the new contributors. And the public, albeit strict, is always fair.

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