Moving to Content Platforms

Credit to Anni Betts for the image 

Michael Cusomano talks about building platforms rather than products to maintain ‘staying power’.

As we move to the Create Once and Publish Everywhere model, storytellers, editors and content producers will need their companies to develop content platforms rather than uber-CMS’, websites and apps. NPR, for instance, publish out an API that can be used in any application. This approach doesn’t necessarily mean investing in Digital Asset Management (DAM ) systems or centralised Content Management Systems. An alternative is to develop a common technical layer to bind various tools’ outputs into a common publishing mechanism or content platform.

This is not purely a technical exercise. You need to have a common content structure, taxonomy, editorial approach and feedback process to assess the impact of content across channels.

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Are media organisations too fixated on content formats rather than outcomes?

Everyone wants fulfilling experiences and feelings. A good read, listen or watch is a stimulus to gain experiences and feelings- not an end in itself. That’s why successful brands don’t concern themselves with boundaries around products, they focus on needs and then try to fulfil them irrespective of channel. Whether that’s marketing physical objects, events , consumables, publications or buildings- the can of coke isn’t important, having influence and loyalty is .

Waitrose is a lifestyle choice that happens to have supermarkets. Google is about a vision of a simpler way of life, not a search engine, email service or car maker.

 In the same way that start-ups are told to pivot if things aren’t working, media companies could find themselves having to move away from content formats to experiences. We see this trend in theatre where immersive installations sell-out rapidly or the likes of Secret Cinema charge £65 a ticket to watch an often repeated film in a replica set.

Sure, watching a well conceived series like Breaking Bad can be popular but HBO can’t rely on long form tv dramas filling the space in people’s lives it does now when social media, immersive gaming and omnipresent experiences are on offer. They must become experts in groundbreaking storytelling whatever format that needs to be.   

Factual media is in an even more precarious situation . We don’t need news outlets to tell us what’s going on. They don’t have exclusive access to the means of production, nor do they have exclusive access to people with newsworthy people becoming publishers. 

Service Design and understanding your core unique properties as a media company is therefore key. Especially as content marketing invades the space previously exclusive to traditional media companies and barriers to entry have been lowered for new start ups.

Some suggested qualities that can’t be replicated include:

  • Years of trust from sources and people who wouldn’t want to self publish.
  • A community that surrounds your product and is vocal about it
  • A culture of distinction or innovation within the company 
  • A focus on quality that only comes from experience 
  • A hiring and retention strategy for staff
  • Years of trust from an audience
  • Access to an archive which can easily be repurposed.

Any other suggestions? Please comment

Beginning of the end for screens

Glazed eyes, cross legged, staring at a screen, whilst images flicker across pupils.

Clunky multi press , swipe and tap motions with one hand as I pull up the calculator – type , correct, type, undo.

Faux wooden bookshelves and dials, containing a mock toolkit which crudely beeps and swooshes, as if I’m an inhabitant of a Jeff Koon artwork.

Heads of digital departments in large electronic corps give keynotes at CES in Vegas declaring ‘soon you’ll have a screen in your smart fridge where you can get the latest weather report’.

It all seems so dated, so Microserfs, so CD-Rom – not the world of Internet of Things, the Quantified Self or wearable tech.

With Amazon Fresh’s announcement of a screen-free Dash device  , that works only via scanning or speaking, we see the beginning of the end for practical screen based services. As much as the mouse feels like a superfluous disconnection in personal computing, now that we have touch screens – so the screen will seem naively disjointed in achieving our computer assisted practical tasks.


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