10 Cs of paid content

What is it about the letter C?

A few weeks ago I discovered that the letter “C” seemed to have a strange significance for DAB. And now I find the same for paid content!

Talking to a friend who has the unenviable task of doubling (non-subscription) content revenues for a large media owner, we got to thinking about how media owners would be able to charge for content in the future.

Paid content – the holy grail of online media owners!

And for run of the mill (i.e. non-specialist) media owners like consumer magazines and newspapers, it’s an elusive goal.

Just look at The Times. Last month Beehive City reported that The Times received fewer than 1.5 million uniques in August. 

And while this is a good deal better than some people predicted, initial paid subscription rates were reported to be low, despite a 30 day trial for only £1.

So what are the key issues for media owners to address when delivering their paid for content services?

That’s where the letter “C” comes in!

Collation – collecting content that is right for the target, which is I suppose pretty self evident.

Curation – organising, maintaining and controlling the quality of content; a harder one, this. The task of maintaining (including keeping content up to date) is potentially a big task, while organising content needs more than a good search algorithm, especially if media owners want to increase satisfaction through the serendiptous discovery of content people are not searching for.
Contextualisation – giving relevance to content and making sense of it is also important. A story like Rooney’s reported spat with Man U could make for much more entertaining reading if some of the surrounding issues concerning the long term success and viability of the club are made available.

Culling – it’s important to get rid of apparently related but in fact irrelevant content that gets in the way of a good story.

Customisation – making it right for the individual reading the story. NOthing new about that as a concept of course.

Connection – enabling the user to interact with the content in imaginative ways that go beyond opinion surveys: a key differentiator and a way of engaging them and developing their loyalty.

Collaboration – enabling users to contribute to and comment on stories won’t be the future of media, but it is (and has been for a long time) an important part of most media experiences. After all The Times letters page is one of the more popular parts of the newspaper.

Communication – enabling the user to share with others, in a way that people increasingly expect based on their use of social media sites.

Convergence – ensuring the journey works across different devices; and that doesn’t mean delivering the same content in a way that is merely usable on different devices; it means delivering an experience that is appropriate for different devices – perhaps with more location based information added to mobile delivery and more interactive content added to content for PC basd delivery.

Credibility – ensuring the source is trusted, and the brand isn’t damaged by the loosening of editorial control that some of the Cs may imply.

That’s a lot of Cs! It won’t be easy…


eAccessibility action plan launches

As a member of the eAccessibility Forum, I was at the launch of the BIS eAccessibility Action Plan (www.BIS.gov.uk/e-accessibility) on Tuesday where both Ed Vaizey and Maria Miller gave compelling speeches on the need for joined up thinking in this area.

The Action Plan outlines a powerful programme of change, focussing on a wide range of areas. There are five work streams:

1. A regulatory work stream that aims to deliver a clear regulatory framework for the public sector, businesses and the voluntary sector to operate in.

2. A consumer technology work stream that will address the problems of affordability and availability of assistive technologies as well as investigate sills and training

3. A website services work stream that will look at ways of ensuring that websites (private and public sectors) are more accessible and better designed

4. An accessible content work stream that will look at issues relating to audio visual content in non web based media as well as ways of making publishing material accessible to the disabled

5. An awareness and promotion work stream that aims to raise awareness of digital accessibility principles

The action plan is very practical: lots of real outputs, not just meetings. If it can be achieved, this programme of work should have a big impact on society and on business.

And accessibility is good business! Nearly one in 5 of the population have some form of disability – and 83% of those have switched from one service to another due to problems with accessibility.

Perhaps even more significantly, around 50% of us have some form of minor physical limitation – poor eyesight, dyslexia, a problem with fine manipulation – and would benefit if websites adhered to the principles of accessibility.

And the opportunities are only going to grow. With an aging population and with more and more people going online regularly, the development of usable and accessible website will be key for any organisation.

And that is why I encourage all my clients to consider accessibility seriously when they are developing new sites and services.

Unfortunately achieving accessibility is getting ever more complex with mobiles, tablets and TVs delivering the web as well as the more familiar PC.

That’s a challenge – the principles of usability for mobiles and smart TVs have yet to be widely agreed. Until they are accessibility is bound to lag on these devices.

But there is no excuse for ignoring accessibility for PC based websites. As a general principal accessible design is good design. But when you realise that accessible design will be positively beneficial for the 50% of the population who have major or minor disabilities it soon becomes clear that getting accessibility right can have a very big impact on the bottom line!