The increasingly crowded consumer app marketplace is growing at an exponentially rapid pace. Hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs across the globe are busy creating the next big cut through app. This publishing trend is driven by low barrier to entry, open global distribution, low development costs and free content consumption. Cut through demands compelling content yet ultimately its success will be decided by social networks and its consumer voice. We are only in business if we can create revenue, the key design goal must be to create enough value to drive purchase.
Depending on the size of your organization your take-out may simply be to build traffic and monetize through advertising, that is a worthwhile strategy but one that should not stand alone. The future trending of digital publishing almost suggests that designing content for traffic alone is almost lazy or at least short cutting your content value. I am not meaning to insult any high traffic content but only to point out so much more can be done.
Facebook and LinkedIn were able to scale traffic first and then fine tune monetization models later. Unfortunately for the majority of SME’s that type of scaling requires capital that is not always available.
Most companies are creating digital content with a view to monetize that content. They want to build on-going customer awareness and repeat purchase. The challenge is to build enough value for your consumer in that they will part with cash.
The Freemium or the Free to Play model monetization can be compared to the same mentality as owning a real or virtual pet. The pet is something you have come to own through being given a gift or purchase. No one is telling you to spend money on it, yet you will feed and nurture it. You may get such a wonderful return from your pet that you buy it pet clothes, you pay for grooming, and you show it off to your friends, your social networks. The more you spend on it the less inclined you become to walk away from it. You have built an investment in it.
The validation of this model could be seen being tested across Asia in the early 2000’s. In every country consumers would spend up to 4’xs more whilst using Free to Play content vs the subscription model. The North Asian markets provide a valuable view of possible publishing and monetization trends. The spread of content piracy through rapid internet networks and now mobile channels sharpen any publishers skill set when looking to package content and so monetize it. Publishing in markets like China or South Korea bring many localization challenges/requirements but the key to success is being able to get cut-through with monetization. Proven content, delivered in the way consumers demand (mobile first) and at a price that conveys value.
The future brings some challenging trends and thankfully far more opportunity. The greatest issue faced is understanding that digital content reflects real-world traditional consumption. We do not need to re-invent the world, only clearly understand our audience and its sub-sets. I believe content sectors like the media sector TV, Newspapers (traditional content) that are currently being disrupted have a wonderful opportunity to change their models and move to a more customer focused and dynamic consumption model. We know this type of traditional media content is compelling, the question becomes how it is packaged, delivered and monetized. Time for majors like News Corp to stop being so one dimensional in their content engagement.
Netflix, Hulu and the thousands of other OTT publishers have presented a solution of fairly priced and compelling content. It is delivered to consumers across all traditional and digital devices, it is monetized through subscription. In order to compete they are creating and owning high quality content like The House of Cards or as HBO goes digital they will use Game of Thrones as their ace. I will suggest that with so many digital media publishing options the consumers will not be loyal nor will their life cycles be maintained long-term. Piracy will continue to provide consumers alternative single show options for consumption. The large amount of free content has allowed consumers to be highly critical of content and its true value. There is little loyalty and franchise hit shows at some point will lose their appeal.
The issue and opportunity for content is to expand the content digitally, know your customer and fans in absolute detail. Package it in a variety of ways including different monetization models, don’t be lazy in bringing alternative consumption options to your consumers.
Kingsoft with Candy Crush and Zynga with Farmville have had massive global new age success. Yet all games majors or media publishers know that the franchises need to keep coming, innovation needs to keep flowing. I would like to highlight Glu Mobile and their recent success with their Kim Kardashian game. This is a great example of trending real world consumption and delivering a variety of content for that specific fan base. I would also like to point out that Glu has also had years of experience trying to publish and compete in Asia, no doubt many lessons have been learnt.
Mobile 4GLTE, rapid free Wi-Fi hotspots and cloud mobile publishing are still somewhat in their infancy but can clearly show how individualized and easy consumption will continue to become. We add on The Internet of Things, Big Data and suddenly our ability to target and know our customer will require rapid changes to traditional business models across all industries. Welcome to big wonderful opportunities for us to really target compelling content to those who will truly desire it and will also be willing to pay for it. Our ability to content package in new and compelling ways are just beginning.