Below is a chapter from The New Media Cocktail e-book I released last week. Over the course of this holiday week, I will be releasing excerpts of that e-book on this blog. Feel free to download the e-book in its entirety, if you prefer.
The notion that media properties must be solely about neatly packaged content seems more antiquated by the day. It has often been said of Yahoo! that they can’t decide whether to be a search portal or a media company. Indeed, some argue that Google is becoming a media company. Just as the bright line between professional and citizen journalism, and among the different types of media, blurs, so too does the line between media and other content-oriented sites.
The media of the future is about content and information, regardless of whether it shows up in a neat little package or comes in the form of some type of application. Effectively, the media of the future can be thought of as niche information portals that provide a mixture of content and tools to satisfy the needs of the typical visitor.
Any application that enhances the value of a site by providing additional information or tools for digesting the content could play a valuable role for the audience. Remember, it is all about the user’s experience. Any application that fits in this space would need to extend the value proposition and offer compelling reasons for the visitor to engage with it.
Imagine, for example, a site about fine dining that incorporates a directory or even a wiki focused on the chefs, sommeliers, and other personalities that make a difference in the restaurant industry. That would be a valuable addition to the site for gourmands as well as industry insiders. Yet it is an application with content that evolves over time – a living document if you will – rather than a package of several hundred words with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Have you visited ESPN.com lately? Or virtually any major sports media website, for that matter. They all incorporate a variety of applications that supplement and complement their audio, video, and text. Whether you are looking for statistics or fantasy leagues, these media properties offer a wealth of applications to enhance the visitor’s experience and to make the site more “sticky” to encourage user loyalty.
Of course, it isn’t simply sports sites that have taken this approach. Many financial publications online marry together columns and stories about investment-related topics with databases of stock information, press releases, SEC filings, and other information valuable to the audience that frequents those destinations. Other applications may enable users to track their portfolio or receive instant news alerts about specific topics of interest or import. Again, it is all about offering the visitor the information she is looking for.
As content producers and audiences become more sophisticated, the level of application integration with content will improve. It will no longer be the largest, most well-funded media properties that integrate applications and content for the value of the user. In fact, even individual blogs have taken small steps in this direction by integrating things like Feedburner “FeedFlares” which incorporate the ability to take action related to a specific blog post without considerable effort by the consumer.
Increasingly, content producers will understand the value that complementary applications provide to an audience and as the technology becomes more easily adopted, consumers will have additional tools available to them to enhance their information experience.
Download The New Media Cocktail e-book in its entirety.