Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Content Graph

What is a person's content consumption habits?

The 'social graph' illustrates the six degrees of separation of a network - or simply who is connected to whom. Facebook and Google among a host of others have APIs that allow us to tap into those connections for a variety of purposes with advertising being a common theme.  Last summer Scott Karp, CEO of Publishing 2.0 wrote a piece on the Content Graph that looked at the world of content thru the eyes of a distributor.   In his view it is the connection between 'content brands' or platforms that create a new alternative for sharing content.   In fact he argued five years ago that:
"The real competition in New Media will be among content remixers."

If I read it right, Scott's view is on connecting the outlets in order to capture brand ad dollars, not the contextual dollars already owned by search.   And to scale it has to have that elusive quality of 'quality' because brands care about association.  So, the idea is to directly share content across properties and outlets. 

Today we're seeing applications like Flipboard,  Zite (acquired by CNN), and AOL's Editions launch as personal remixers.  They learn from your habits and serve up similar content. This suggests that the role of remixing and editorship is personal and no longer the purview of an intermediary.

Since we're now in the recommendation or sharing economy, the ability to connect who consumes with what is consumed should be of interest to marketers. In fact, both Blue Fin Labs and Networked Insights are linking the social graph to the content graph - often for the purpose of developing media plans.  

If we are allowed to choose both our own content and its distribution then there also seems to be an opportunity to understand how the content itself is consumed, by whom and where.   If we can tag individual elements of content and track its consumption then we have the ability to define the value of specific chunks, or at least sources, of content.  This then could provide for interesting pricing models and valuations for properties - it won't be eyeballs or circulation anymore. Since websites and publications are simply containers for what is of value, the future focus will be on the items themselves. 

All this leads to the conclusion that we require a framework for knowing how content works - something more to think about.

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