Get Ready For A Wild Ride
At the MPA Digital: Technology conference back in June, Hearst's SEO specialist, Matt Robson, spoke of a number of disruptive trends in media that he thinks will upend the way publishers create, present, distribute and monetize content. (I write in some detail about his presentation in the upcoming July/August Publishing Executive.) One of the more interesting is the increasing number of tools that allow consumers to become content curators and essentially "run [their] own media network."
These new tools include sites like Storify and Scoop.it, which enable individuals to aggregate and publish customized content streams. Twitter does this too, with users constantly retweeting and directing followers to interesting news, entertainment, and other online bric-a-brac, all the while providing a running commentary on the same. Harnessing the power of these hives of connected users sharing similar interests, applications like Flipboard present content "edited" by those you friend or follow in a pleasing magazine format. It's a fascinating new media landscape—the implications of which are just now beginning to be understood.
Into this environment will soon drop HTML5, and if I'm reading a recent MediaPost blog by Diane Mermigas correctly, we are really in for a wild ride. According to Mermigas, just as mobile apps are upending Google's rock solid lock on search (because smartphone and tablet users do so little indexed searching), HTML5's ability to allow anyone to seamlessly distribute content across multiple digital platforms could threaten the "walled-garden" business model of Apple. It may even plunder that most protected of media spaces, television, as video creators and aggregators find it much easier to publish, market, distribute and monetize their content, undermining all at once the business models of cable, YouTube, Netflix and Hulu.
What does this mean? In consort with mobile and apps, HTML5 could do wonderful things for publishing, such as normalize paid content consumption in a way browser-based distribution never could and never will. At the same time, its ability to supercharge social-media based, consumer-controlled media creation and distribution could further atomize the publishing landscape and permanently upend ideas of how to construct a successful publishing business model.
Of course, none of this is certain. In her blog, Mermigas is paraphrasing the "zealous rant" of tech investor and rock musician Roger McNamee (who after a quick search just entered my very short list of People I Want to Be), and is careful to characterize his ideas as "intriguing, if not convincing." Still, all of the consumer trends I see seem to support these contentions, and none argue against them.
Fasten your seat belts.