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Why social networks are like early television

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Newton MinowThe new limiting factor is time, right?

Using a social network isn’t rewarding until we invest time in it. More time, more reward.

What if social networks were TV channels circa 1948? The appearance of ABC doesn’t make me enjoy CBS or NBC less. But broadcast TV is capital intensive, so all 3 channels made money by delivering identical goods to a mass audience. Homogeny: road map to a vast wasteland.

Online social networks are built on a different type of capital — the aggregated time investments of their users. Google+, Twitter and Facebook are all trying to maximize that investment by offering identical functions to a general audience. User time investment has replaced airwave frequencies as the source of scarcity. The effect is homogeny.

“More time, more reward,” the cardinal rule of these early social media giants, is a broadcast mentality, even though the delivery system is digital.

This new ABC looks fine to me. But the next social networks that really matter — the ones that disrupt CBS and NBC rather than competing with them — will be the ones that figure out how to offer different sorts of rewards while demanding less capital from users: TNT, AMC, ESPN.

Why I don’t care about pageviews

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

eyeballPageviews don’t make money. Brands make money.

I’ve been doing my own thing for exactly 11 months. This does not make me a moneymaking expert. But I’m as certain as I get that I’m right on this one.

First, two points of information:

  1. Yes, pageviews and uniques matter to advertisers. I’m saying they’re not the main decision driver.
  2. Yes, a few people make money on traffic alone, or something close to it. I’m saying that for those of us at content companies, as opposed to technology companies — which includes almost everybody here at the local level — traffic for traffic’s sake is a sucker’s game.

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Relevance is mandatory, so pick a niche

Friday, July 31st, 2009

First in a series.

Here’s one of my four core principles for today’s media market: these days, relevance is mandatory.

I’m not talking about some of your content. I’m talking about all of your content.

If you’re not scared yet, you should be.

Yesterday, distribution costs were high, which made information scarce. The only way to distribute information was to spend lots of capital on a printing press or a broadcast tower. The only way to make this investment pay off was to make everyone interested in your content.

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