Saturday, October 29, 2005

The question of content

The AOL Time Warner debate rumbles on about who really acquired whom.

The real issue is about content and this is a critical issue for public relations.

We love the content of our publications. The touch and feel of a book, newspaper or magazine is a mixture of visual and touch signals that are very important in our lives.

We are happy as couch potatoes and the effect of visual cognition is dramatic. Some visual environments are associated with presence, which is characterized by high levels of arousals and intensive affect. High levels of arousal and intensive affect are associated with lower levels of ad awareness, which means that peripheral cues will play a more important role in the persuasive process as technology advances in visual communication develop.

Has pap TV had its day?

Radio is not just wallpaper. Sounds are evocative and stir emotions. Like all other media, radio is growing fast.

The importance of all this is that this is about the future of communication.

Usenet, that ancient manifestation of citizen journalism, showed us the way back in the '70's. Listserve, Chat, discussion boards, Instant Messaging, Blogs, Wiki's and podcasting are a continuum. With the Web, iTV, SMS, mobile voice, video and movies they form a high reach divergent and convergent communication mix and, more to the point, content.

Which takes us back to AOL/TW. The rich content in the Time Warner archive is important and significant. With the Internet's capability to offer transparency, porosity and agency, this archive is now vulnerable and all the more so because of Web 0.2. This makes it even easier for information to be made available, 'leak' out of organisation, and morph as it goes (see this BBC report). Additionally some content will be re-cycled forever.

Joel Cere Reports on Sir Martin Sorrell's IABC comments. He points out that Sorrell

'...singled out News Corp recent online media “panic buying” spree and the threat to some traditional media’s business models (newspapers classifieds v. Craiglist). His question to media owners: “How can traditional media continue to charge more for less?" Sir Martin Sorrell blamed the failure from traditional media to embrace online on the age of people who run major media/ad groups and a reluctance to change. may also have made the point that the News Corp buying spree will not help News Corp. NewsCorp cannot keep up and cannot put up.'

I commented: Citizens, global citizens in networks, media, disparate on-line global media and now Web 0.2 break out of the command and control media mogul's grasp.

At present rates newspaper and magazine editorial will shrink by 30% in five years (print won't die – it will change). Web TV (including podcasting) will undermine the big TV companies (and they will begin shrieking about stinking fish any day now – just like the music industry did over MP3). But the effect will be a breakout just like citizen music with share of the music consumer market fleeing the big producers in double digits per year.

The UK's Newspaper Licensing Agency, the Copyright Licensing Agency and their international counterparts want to control the distribution of news articles (news clips) and just shoot themselves in both feet (if its not relevant and accessible on line, its not relevant any more and is accessed by minorities already overwhelmed by vastly more significant stuff on-line). Once again, the protectionist media owners have failed to grasp the significance of our networked society.

Sir Martin just blurted out what is known.

There is a paradigm of buyer/seller. It is the paradigm of mass media, full on above the line advertising, point of sale promotion and marketing managed discounts.

But people want more. They want and always have wanted added value. The seek extra values they can take out of a transaction, the experience of relationships. They want content.

Some will come from the AOL/TW's of this world but the nature of open source translates well into citizen content with its massive manpower and hyper commitment. People seek the community and selectivity, involvement and recollections of relationships that the psychologists have been unravelling in the last four years. These ideas of associated value has had the brand management industry entranced and it has struggled with this idea. But the reality is that this is a public relations industry opportunity because PR can add extra value in relationships. This means that to serve his clients, Sir Martin may think it is some value to invest in some serious research. By that, I mean real hard empirical research among the top PR academic research houses in the world. There is no need to research blogging or podcasting or Web 0.2. That is a given. What is important is why and how multitouch relationships building is important, can build value and create wealth. WPP has spent money on advertising, marketing and brand management academic research. Now, to survive, it could look has to look towards the only organisations it has that can strategically manage multitouch – PR.

Picture: Time Warner