Content Aggregation: Boon or Bane for Publishers?
While all of this might leave writers and editors shaking in their boots, Bushell says these new models should not worry them too much.
By offering strategies for containing costs and driving revenue, she believes supplemental content services can "help to create a terrific environment for traditional and emerging editorial to complement one another."
"Remember, multichannel doesn't mean just reproducing content in all media—it means creating an expanded array of content that is tailored to the different delivery channels," she says.
Whether in writing for the 'long tail' or building out robust multichannel products, the message seems to be that these new content-creation strategies, at their best, serve publishers as they aim to expand into new digital frontiers, generating profits through a low-cost, high-revenue model that supplements, rather than replaces, existing content-creation structures.
"Publishers tell us that traditional editorial has nothing to be scared of in what Helium has to offer," Bushell says. "What probably scares traditional editorial is more the challenge facing publishers to balance their costs and revenues in a multichannel world."
A World of Curators
In a presentation at the recent MPA Digital: Technology conference, produced by The Association for Magazine Media (MPA) in New York, Matt Robson, SEO specialist at Hearst Magazines, outlined a number of trends pointing to a "disruption of media"—in the discovery, creation, presentation, distribution and monetization of content. All of these factors come to bear on publishers' strategy around content.
For instance, even those who decry aggregation cannot deny its appeal for users, as proven by the success of such sites as HuffPo, Slate and The Daily Beast, and must recognize that the collecting and customization of content will happen regardless of whether publishers do the curating or not. Applications like Flipboard and Google Reader allow individuals to control and compile their own menu of articles, videos, photographs and podcasts to consume on their own terms. "A lot of people who are news junkies are following hundreds of blogs," Robson noted. "It's not possible to check that many websites for updates, [but there are] new systems where blog feeds are brought directly to them."