Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Superdistribution: The Antithesis of the Broadcast Model?

According to a March 2006 IDC Insight report sales blurb, (that I can't afford to read) their new research focuses on "the outlook for commercial content superdistribution via carrier decks (new term for PDA's, cell phones, and computers?)/portals, which would allow wireless subscribers and customers to recommend or gift content and services directly to other mobile consumers (and even potentially "beg" others to buy content for them (their comment)). Superdistribution may be understood as the antithesis of the broadcast model; its strength resides at the edge of the network rather than at the core. In time, viral superdistribution could emerge as a dynamic new channel for wireless content sales once key gating factors have been addressed."

The antithesis of anything is kind of cool to think about, (maybe more fun than those Sudaku things), but I am not sure it quite works with the superdistribution/broadcasting comparison. Superdistribution, if "gating factors have been addressed" is sort of secondary, complementary and ancillary to broadcasting. Broadcasting "seeds" content in the many's hands, which is then passed into secondary networks. It is an antithesis in that the distribution is happening one-to-one versus one-to-many, but superdistribution can also be one-to-many.

For example, suppose I belong to a kayaking news group with hundreds of members, and I stumble onto a beautiful video of someone running the Zambizi River in South Africa. I sent a link or the content itself to the entire newsgroup...which presumbably many would want to see. I have "broadcast" the content using superdistribution.

But I'm being picky about words, and if I could read the report, it would probably be saying the same thing as I am. The real impact of this goes back to the broadcaster...or in the case of the Internet, any portal that is centrally distributing content. If you could take advantage of this secondary, complementary, and ancillary distribution...why wouldn't you? You would package your centrally distributed products in such a way that they could be passed around, copied and continually protected and monetized.

I seems to me that cutting off your distribution at the end of a broadcast and not allowing superdistribution is the antithesis of good marketing sense.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Portal is Dead. Long live the Portal

The success of Superdistribution as a digital content business model will have some interesting consequences for portals who are aggregating content. (technical/marketing talk for sites like i-Tunes, Rhapsody, Napster, etc.)

The current business model that propels these entities relies on marketing and advertising, (and of course good word of mouth) to drive customers to a branded web address, where lots of music, video, or other types of similar content is aggregated. Customers then get to search and browse thousands of choices. If one product stands out from the rest, or happens to have been labeled and branded in such a way to peak the customer's interest, then a sale is made.

Typically, the owner of the content then shares the revenue with the portal, and hopes/assumes they will plow at least some of the money back into marketing, the mother's milk of these sites. The hope being that the sheer number of customers coming to the site will mitigate the sheer number of titles that his content has to compete with. In a way, its the old record store model gone digital. And just like the physical model where only a few chains had/have the marketing power to dominate, (Tower Records, Sam Goody, Best Buy, Circuit City), there will only be a few portals that survive the head to head marketing wars on the horizon.

So what's a content owner to do? The Internet at its best is a one-to-one medium where people of almost any walk of life, with incredibly divergent interests can find portals that have a focus almost uniquely on them. What if I, the content creator, know exactly who will be interested in my creations, including their friends and co-workers. What if I could market my content directly to those portals, such that my target demographic is seeded my content on my terms. This is what our new patented technology enables. It turns highly focused portals into YOUR portal, and takes the emphasis off content aggregation portals. More precisely, the content aggregation portal is dead. Long live the highly focused portal.

This effect gets even more powerful as this "seeded" content finds its way around the Internet with the Superdistribution effect. Since the content doesn't care whether it is delivered in email, IM, FTP, or in P2P networks, people will be receiving content that is branded by the actual content owner and not know, or even care, where it originated. In other words, the content owner is the brand, not the content it should be. Seeding content into highly targeted portals makes the brand of the portal even less important, since ANY website can serve up the content.

The real significance of this is that content owners can take real control over all aspects of their product, including the direct marketing. A virtual kiosk, stuck in the middle of a target demographic hotspot is an opportunity to sell something they really need and not make them hunt for it. That group is more likely to pass around the content to their like minded friends, fueling Superdistribution.