Community Casting

I am just back from DigitalHollywood show. There was one question I heard more loudly than any other no matter which session I attended; “How do we monetize content?” The question now takes on an urgent tone as more and more traditional media struggle to answer that question before it’s too late.

And coincidentally, the dialogue at DigitalHollywood seemed a real world extension of the Ad Age article I had written that just was just published; Why Charging for Online Content (Mostly) Won’t Work. The article outlined why trying to monetize content is really hard and the better approach is to create unique user experiences, like a robust community, that then lets you create upsell opportunities. By the kinds of responses I got on the article, I seem to have hit a note. Many people wrote extensively about how current models don’t work.

And as in my article, the conference betrayed a gnawing sense of angst since no one anymore doubted that the old model was broken, but no one was clear about what will replace it.

We all knew we were on the precipice of something big, new, unknown and undefined. We were excited, inspired, and cautious.

We also knew we were all making it up as we go.

Yet even from within the doubts, one could see innovation all around. There are a lot of great tech companies offering lots of versions of video streaming platforms … from PPV to satellite to distributed networks. There were other great companies who had really interesting audience engagement models from the citizen journalists of AllVoices to MomTV who look to create meaningful interactions with Moms. Despite the cool technology we all saw at the conference, the chase for the content monetization answer trumped most others.

The Ad Age article seemed prescient to the conference’s theme because I actually answered that question directly by drawing on the experience of Paltalk, a profitable web 2.0 company. Paltalk’s monetization engine uses content to attract audiences but then creates end user value in offering real time, interactive video visitor engagement within our communities. Once the user is committed to a community, then there are interesting upsell opportunities possible.

This is what “community casting” is about. It is about creating and nurturing a community with real time community interaction with video and chat.  This is what will emerge as the new content monetization engine.

It is, in fact, already working now. Watch this space.

Judy Shapiro

Keep your chin up Twitter!

 I feel a bit protective nowadays of Twitter, almost like the elder aunt who sees her younger relatives struggle with issues she figured out decades ago.

Why do I feel protective of them now? Because I see Twitter being hosed on so many fronts all at the same time. From technological challenges of a meteoritic rise to the scrutiny they must submit to as the poster child of some brighter tech/ financial future.  They get bashed every time there is a security problem – like the recent hack or their user imposter issues. And the unpredictability of their business risk must seem like a steady, intense diet of fear and frustration. All this is blended in with adrenalin rush they no doubt should feel at being one of the cool techno kids on the block, even if there is a niggling uncertainly about what the real upside might be.  

 But the worst part of the Twitter Boom is how they are quickly becoming the symbol of some new age, techno-gold rush with all the negative associations. In the past week alone, I have seen a steady increase in the number SPAM in my in box claiming all sorts of schemes to make a lot money using/ leveraging/ engineering Twitter. Like “How to build a brand on Twitter”, “How to use Twitter to hire superstars”, “How to create a new biz with Twitter” and my favorite  “Earn millions from the Twitter explosion”  – really. 

 This must be awful for the Twitter people. Trying to shut down these make money scams to protect their good name would be like trying to win at that awful “whack a mole” game. It is a losing, exhausting and demoralizing proposition. There must be a level of edginess that hovers over them.

 So my dear younger Twitter colleagues take some advice from your “elder aunt”. Fame may be fleeting, but once your 15 minutes of fame have passed, I hope you emerge at the other end stronger, more stable and less vulnerable. Hard work, perseverance and a long term perspective does almost always prevail.  

 Live and learn.

 Your distant but compassionately concerned “aunt”.

Judy Shapiro

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