There’s been a lot of talk lately about the disintegration of media into streams and the resulting economic fallout. John Battelle is always hugely thoughtful media and the future of advertising and deconstructs the issues like a pro. Matthew Ingram rightly suggests that advertising will naturally become more content like. On Pando, Hamish McKenzie talks about magazines bundling problem and then provides a few optimistic suggestions as to how we content creators might solve the problem with a little charity from readers among other things.
I’ve obsessed about this issue before. At an event I put on call “7 Minutes To Reinvent the Internet” a few years back, I outlined how i thought the media world was changing at a rate that advertising could not keep pace with. I speculated that a new content delivery platform would replace the ad server and how a “Advertising Programming Interface” (not the other API) might enable advertising to keep up with the feed. (Recently found the presentation if you are interested)
The contrast between old and new hits me everyday when I start my media day. My consumption is largely feed-based and often ad free. Email is an old-fashioned but useful media delivery tool and often a starting point for the journey. I am a huge fan of curators like Hishhorn. I have recently started to love Jason Calacanis’s Launch Ticker. News.me offers a nice personalized daily selection of articles. After email, I pop over to Twitter. I am have begun to use LongForm on my iPad. I save articles to Instapaper. I use Pulse too. I even get Next Draft through David Pell’s new iPhone app. I pick. I filter. Content comes from a mix of craft and professional sources. I move from author to author, media brand media brand with disregard for environment and context.
On the other side I read a handful of magazines and have started a subscription with all-you-can-eat magazine subscription service Next Issue. It offers me well designed editorial from trusted media brands. But here’s the thing. I spend way less time here. it not immediate and it doesn’t get in front of me. I realize it is still young, but the format is slow and clumbsy. My feeds are immediate and social . And more often than not, I prefer the speed, control and relevance.
Which is why the future will likely lean towards the feed. More attention will be here. And I find it hard to imagine a scenario where advertising will live along side the feed in a way where monetization “efficiency” will approach what it was inside of the old packages.
Indeed, we will find better ways to append advertising to feeds that makes its way through new interfaces and into new devices. Yes the advertising will feel more like the stream and behave like content. But the CPM value will not be near what media companies have been accustomed to. The more targeted reaching more coveted audiences will always find premiums, but the real rich CPM’s will be reserved for interruptive presentation of video messaging in clean, well lit, scaled and controlled environments.
And the resulting disruption has precedents. It will force a music-industry-like evolutionary process onto publishers where content becomes the starting point and brand builder. Where higher value services with fewer, invested devotees pay bills via subscription, data, events and commerce.
In short, like the music business before it, publishers are loosing control of distribution. When this happens your content becomes your marketing. It is the bait you use to build your brand and pull consumers into a higher value relationship. This change is not going to be easy, but it feels inevitable.