I had lunch today with an old – i.e. we did "online" business together in the last millennium – friend in the digital media industry today. Aside from the nicety involved with catching up, we had an interesting chat about what we're seeing in the industry today which brought a circle around to some things we were seeing 10+ years ago.
The company he now works for could be considered a "network" as they sell their advertising solution across a broad range of sites that they don't own. However, what he was excited about – and what I think is a good move for them and hopefully a trend to be seen in the industry forthwith since I'm aware of a few other digital media companies doing the same – was their move to invest in and develop "owned and operated" content sites. Further, the O&O sites will be atalysts for conversation and, thus, more pointed and relevant content around the subject matter that the content sites are focused upon. Relevant being the keyword there.
Earth shattering? No. But in a marketplace that has been perhaps unduly focused for a couple of years now on real time bidding against chunks of remnant inventory (call it what you will), it is refreshing to see a commitment to quality over quantity. That's not to say there isn't room and/or need for exchanges (or networks for that matter) to deliver scale that can be finely cut as needed to deliver audiences and business results efficiently – and, of course, provide revenue opportunities to various parties trading in the inventory (who doesn't need to make a buck these days).
But – and here's my point – if content is indeed king – as it has been stated over and over the past decade or more – millions (billions?) of eyeballs and the accompanying data that goes along with it perhaps needs to be just a prince of some sort. More to the point, perhaps we should re-casts "content is king" to something more like, "the better your content, the better your data". No?
We then meandered into discussing a stat we'd both heard that at some point soon (a year? two?) something like 70% (probably more) of a brand's content will be consumed outside of a brand's website (link intentionally not inserted, the fact check doesn't seem needed to continue on this storyline). Frankly, I'd be surprised if that isn't already the case.
Anyway, made us recollect about the good ol' days of the "AOL Keyword" tag that used to accompany so many "offline" media advertisements and the similarity to facebook.com/gohereformorestuffyouwontseeinthisad approach now all the rage. I wonder if AOL ever tracked how much of a brand's content was consumed outside of the brand's website back in those days, or how people "engaged" inside the walled garden. Would be interesting to see (once more, didn't seek to track down or insert link…just spit balling here, folks).
I won't recount our discussion of brand as publisher as I think where his company is heading is interesting and the right path. Let's just say the following quote from a piece on today's AdAge sums it up nicely: "Just because the technology exists to allow you to broadcast to your customers doesn't mean that you should do it, because no models or new rules will make what you say true."