It’s no longer about using technology to aggregate content. It’s about using content to aggregate technology. If there was one common theme at both this year’s CES and at last week’s National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas, it is the shift in emphasis away from advances in TV technology and distribution to how content producers are being recognised as the monetization engines for technology companies.
For the past five to six decades, the TV industry has handled content as a commoditized product (with occasional hits) to be aggregated, packaged and sold to distributors, advertisers and audiences. The digital media business has followed the same pattern, with investors, advertisers, agencies, media companies and developers all reducing the role of content to a tertiary player in the ecosystem. Invite the top 100 venture capital investors to invest in a content start-up, and more than 90 will advise they “don’t invest in content.” What they should admit is that they are ignorant about the fundamentals of the media and advertising business, locked into an outdated paradigm, and blind to the hottest growth sector of media and advertising for the next decade. Google’s acquisition of YouTube and NextNewNetworks acknowledges that reality. Ask 100 media buyers to identify their clients’ #1 priority, the answer has almost always been “reaching key audiences as efficiently as possible.” The biggest issue in the industry for the past half-decade: procurement!
But for the next five decades, the central-point of investment opportunity in both digital and legacy media will be content and context — not technology, and not content aggregation. Content creators and developers now have the ability to shop in a warehouse over-stocked with software tools and resources that enable them to build out their digital distribution models across all platforms. Free, cheap and ubiquitous tools are available for mobile apps, interactivity, group deals and commerce, social connections, ad management, advanced TV, performance measurement and pretty much any capability content producers may require to scale their businesses. Venture capital investors with deep pockets continue to fund one tech start-up after the other, all chasing advertiser dollars and consumer eyeballs. They, along with huge global CE manufacturers LG, Intel, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony and others are now all focusing on chasing content partners.
It was inevitable that content would find its way to the centre of this discussion. It’s no longer about technology tools aggregating and monetizing content. It’s about branded content producers aggregating and monetizing technology.