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The future for content

 

Vol. 2, No. 21, 13/6/2001

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Vol. 2, No. 21 The future for content June 13, 2001

Yvette Nielsen, Editor, yvette@brizcomm.com.au

This free newsletter is distributed by subscription only. If you
wish to unsubscribe, please see the instructions at the end.


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Whoa, what a week, and it's only Wednesday.

Jetlag, moving house and a return to dial-up Internet are a great
recipe for stress stew - and I've had my fill.

Fortunately, I've moved to Big Brother's house on the south coast
(no, not that Big Brother house).

The pounding surf distracts me from my pounding headache brought
on by the fact I can't access the virtual surf. Guess the situation
has a certain morbid symmetry.

Anyone else having problems with Telstra's new you-beaut, Australia
-wide, local-call access Internet service?

What a nightmare. No wonder Telstra profits are down. Net outages
happen to all ISPs but customer support could at least provide a
recorded message to let dial-up victims know what's happening
before they wait in a phone queue for 20 minutes.

Rural surfers have my deepest sympathy. With no cable access in my
new, otherwise idyllic neighbourhood, at least I can get satellite
or possibly ASDL broadband access. Mind you, I have to pay out the
rest of my cable contract, despite the fact it's Telstra's fault
I can't get cable down here. Grrrr.

On a positive note, I've managed to find some time to compile a
summary of the keynote address at last week's Internet Content
West conference in Los Angeles. Enjoy.

Still a few seats going begging for the Web Content Workshop in
Brisbane next Thursday and Friday. Go on, treat yourself to some
unique professional development and be ready for the Net's next wave.

Book at http://www.brizcomm.com.au/workshops/

Yvette


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IN THIS ISSUE:
1-2. Web content tip -
3. The Y Files (Q&A)
4. Columns and reviews
5. Surf Club
6. Reader's choice
7. Weekly chuckle


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1-2. Web content tip - The future for content


Last year's tech wreck was not the start of the end of the Internet
but the beginning of a third wave.

Ted Leonsis, vice-chairman of America Online (AOL), proved suitably
entertaining and optimistic in his opening at Internet Content West:


WAVE 1 - What were we thinking?

In the late 90s, Net evangelists were predicting a 500-channel universe
and claiming that convergence of computers, TVs and networks was here.

They predicted plentiful bandwidth (ie speed) and rattled off books
about life after TV while Hollywood worried about going high-tech.

These seemingly logical conclusions and concepts just didn't pan out,
along with Internet films, interactive comics, online soaps and
most paid multi-player games.

To win, Ted says, you need:

* bandwidth
* relationships with your readers/viewers (the Net is an interactive
and intimate medium unlike passive, one-way TV)
* creative talent (online storytelling has not been compelling enough)
* business model (too much good money has been spent chasing bad ideas).

Ted described, tongue in cheek, "great episodes in cyberhistory" when
business plans and revenues were a distraction in the days of "chuck
and duck" investment.


WAVE 2 - We learned a lot

Ted noted that, three years ago, the starry eyed were lined up
outside Internet-related conferences. In 2001, numbers are smaller
in line with more realistic expectations. Ted's advice:

* get usage (ie an audience)
* get real (the three Cs of convenience, community and commerce)
* get viral (AOL doesn't spend a cent on marketing, advertising
or PR in the US these days - word of mouth is more powerful)
* get adjusted (no bandwidth = no video - people are paying online
through their time or money and won't return if not respected).

Things that work on the Net include:

* personals (AOL's No. 1 usage)
* entertainment planning (rather than being entertained, people
prefer to use the Net to choose or order movies, tickets and local
entertainment)
* entertainment that isn't entertainment (eg ebay with its empowering
auctions and sticky, multiple revenue streams; ESPN sports)
* jokes and entertainment via email
* short subjects, animations and parodies
* music downloads

Winners focus on:

* brands
* scale
* mass audiences (eg become a multi-title publisher)
* multiple revenues


WAVE 3 - The third wave

Ted says the third wave will show signs of intelligent life, ie:

* convergence really happens
* bandwidth is more plentiful (still 18 months away)
* Net access crosses many devices
* consumers know they must pay to play (great for content creators).

Real business is back in vogue with Net entrepreneurs realising
they need to control expenses and build strong relationships.

Big Ted predicts the third wave will be a tidal wave.

I reckon we should all hit the surf and skill up now so we're ready.

* don't forget to book a place at my workshop for the hottest tips
and tricks (many of which you won't find in a book, newsletter or
web site).


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3. The Y Files (Q&A)


This week's question is from Ian Dillon, of Brisbane.

Q: I agree with you that content is king (or queen if you prefer)
but just how much are people willing to pay for it, especially if
no on-site advertising is involved? I have an idea for putting
content online in a not-for-profit way, where the only cost you pay
is the cost to me of providing the data over the wires plus 1c a Mb
downloaded for the cost of hosting, calculating bandwidth used etc.
Bandwidth charges are in the vicinity of 16c a Mb, I believe. Do you
think people would go for it if the content is genuinely useful?
Much of the content would be a labour of love rather than money,
especially at the outset. So many worthwhile things don't get done
due to funds shortages.

A: That's the $64 million question, Ian: how much, if anything, will
online users pay, considering content has been largely free till now.
The question arose many, many times during Internet Content West.
Some (jaded) publishers say people will not pay for online content
- end of story. Others, including owners of many small, successful
niche-based publications, say they'll pay if the price is right. The
trouble is, the right price is too small for credit card payment.
The key might be micropayments (where readers/viewers/listeners/players
pay in cents rather than dollars) through a user-friendly payment
system (eg Clickshare). If your content is useful, unique and easy to
buy, you're halfway there. Porn star Danni Ashe, who gets 95 per cent
of her revenue from subscriptions, told LA conference delegates
that visitors to her site, Danni's Hard Drive, paid $US9.95 (about
$A20) a month for her unique content in 1995 and now pay $US19.95
(about $A40). They baulked at a price rise to $US24.95. While most
of us continue to labour for love (as opposed to lust), if you work
with passion, the money will follow - eventually.

* Information has always been free, according to Slate's Scott Moore,
who told the content conference the subscription model doesn't work:
http://slate.msn.com/Readme/01-05-10/Readme.asp

* Read previous Y Files at http://www.brizcomm.com.au/freetips/ or
email your own puzzler to yvette@brizcomm.com.au


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4. Columns and reviews


Remember the little Morris Minor car? Pollyanna does, only too well.

Read about her exploits (I'll upload it to the site as soon as BigPond
lets me in) at http://www.brizcomm.com.au/readerswrite/default.asp


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5. Surf Club


Nothing doing this week but don't miss next week's newsletter for
an exclusive subscriber-only column of self-censored site reviews
(not for the faint-hearted).


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6. Reader's Choice (see archives in Surf Club at www.brizcomm.com.au)


Hmm, nothing happening here either. Don't be shy - you can use a
pen name if you like. Just email your brief site review (two or
three sentences) to yvette@brizcomm.com.au

I have lots of great new books on the shelves waiting for new owners.


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7. Weekly chuckle -


We are in an Internet world with no borders or fences, who needs
windows and gates...

(author unknown)


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Adios, amigos.

(can you tell I visited Tijuana, Mexico, while in California?)


Yvette

PS I set up an account with Optus at midnight to send this out. Adios,
Telstra.


Yvette Nielsen, Editor
yvette@brizcomm.com.au
phone 61 (0)4 41 771 8683

brizcomm ) online content consulting and training
PO Box 2026, Bardon, Queensland 4065, Australia

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(c) 2000-2001 Brizcomm Pty Ltd

brizcomm pty ltd accepts no responsibility and disclaims all
liability for any incorrect information that may be contained
in any articles or events mentioned in this newsletter.

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director@brizcomm.com.au


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