Newer posts are loading.
You are at the newest post.
Click here to check if anything new just came in.

January 19 2012

Getting the content out there isn't enough anymore

Content is still king, but now it has to share its crown. Justo Hidalgo (@justohidalgo), co-founder of 24symbols and a panelist in the "New Ways to Sell" session at the upcoming Tools of Change for Publishing Conference, believes added value and personalized services are just as important as the content itself. He explains why in the following interview.

In what contexts does content aggregation create the most value?

JustoHidalgoMug.pngJusto Hidalgo: Companies that take content and contribute added value for readers are generally better positioned to succeed. Specifically, I believe content aggregation is useful in the following contexts:

  • Hubs — Why did The Huffington Post gain so much success? Why is Spotify increasing its number of users constantly? And why is Netflix in trouble? There are of course many reasons, but one is particularly clear: Users want hubs where they can find most, if not all, of the content they want. Content aggregation enables just that. While creating silos of information can be valuable in specific niche markets, it does not work in mass markets unless your brand recognition is immensely high.
  • Value addition — Social recommendation is a typical yet good example of value addition to content, as is adding information about a title's author and surrounding context. This meta-information can be manually or automatically added. I believe in the power of machine learning and data mining technologies applied to this area, along with human expertise.
  • Discovery — While having thousands or millions of books complicates a search, it also creates an impressive opportunity: There are more relevant datasets to match recommendations and tastes as well as to facilitate serendipitous discovery.

How about paywalls — is anyone doing this properly? What is the best way to make this model work?

Justo Hidalgo: Paywall models only work if what you offer is extremely exclusive. Maybe the New York Times or the Financial Times can succeed at offering paywall content, but in a digital world absolutely nothing can be prevented from being copied and propagated. So the key is not the content itself, but the value-added service offered on top of it. Only a mixture of high-quality content and a great service will be compelling enough to make users pay.

In general, the content — and the service that contains it — needs to be testable, and models like freemium, whether "free" is forever or for a limited time, are critical in the digital content world. Spotify is creating a massive user base with this model, even now that its free offering is not as compelling as before. The New York Times is also using a freemium approach, letting its users read a few articles per month for free before the paywall kicks in.

The challenge of paywalls in this context is that high quality is not only expected, but required. With so many good free sources of information available, if I am to pay for it, I expect it to be impressive — not only in terms of pure content, but also in terms of the benefits the service provides in a personalized way.

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb. 13-15, 2012, in New York City, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012

24Symbols is based on a subscription model. Since your launch, have you had to change the model to make it work?

Justo Hidalgo: Pivoting is inherent to any startup. We made some changes to our product strategy, like focusing on the HTML5 version before the native apps for iOS and Android.

In terms of the model, the basics are the same. We believe a cloud-based social reader with a freemium subscription model is key for the future of publishing. And we recently branched out to license our technology to companies and institutions that want to offer a cloud reader to their customers or employees. This was in our minds from the start, but we wanted to focus on the consumer offering first and create a top-class platform.

This interview was edited and condensed.

Related:

Reposted byRK RK

October 05 2011

The making of a "minimum awesome product"

This post is part of the TOC podcast series, which we'll be featuring here on Radar in the coming months. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.


When the Flipboard iPad app first arrived, it helped us to look at the tablet user interface in a whole new way. Suddenly, those ugly RSS feeds became beautiful, and they could be navigated alongside Twitter and Facebook streams. Flipboard's co-founder, Evan Doll (@edog1203), recently sat down with me to talk about how the app was designed and where it might be heading. Key highlights from the full video interview (below) include:

  • A key to design at Apple: Every time you present the user with a non-essential decision to make, you have failed as a designer. [Discussed at the 1:00 mark]
  • Steve Jobs and user interface design: All those rumors are true. Steve Jobs has indeed played a significant role in even the tiniest of user interface design decisions. [Discussed at 1:20]
  • Exceeding customer expectations: Focus less on producing a "minimum viable product" and more on making it a "minimum awesome product." [Discussed at 2:28]
  • Anonymized data is a crucial tool: You may not like it, but your browsing habits are being studied. Don't worry though — it's not some big brother conspiracy, but rather the Flipboard team looking for ways to improve the user experience. [Discussed at 4:05]
  • Focus on being "fundamentally social": The social component of your product needs to be organic, not something that's tacked on later. Flipboard is an "inherently social browser." [Discussed at 5:15]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.

TOC Frankfurt 2011 — Being held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, TOC Frankfurt will feature a full day of cutting-edge keynotes and panel discussions by key figures in the worlds of publishing and technology.

Save 100€ off the regular admission price with code TOC2011OR

Related:

September 09 2011

Publishing News: Google gets local with Zagat

Here are some highlights from this week's publishing news.

Google looks to corner local content market with Zagat acquisition

GoogleLogoGoogle officially entered the business of distributing content written by real, live human beings this week with its acquisition of Zagat. This opens up a whole new world of competition for Google — some think to the extent of possibly raising conflict-of-interest questions. Regardless of the possible dangers of the acquisition and arguments that it should be "blocked, reversed, annulled, undone, or whatever the right word is, to protect consumers, to protect restaurant owners, and to protect competitors," this is big news on the local content and mobile search fronts.

Tim Carmody points out at Wired that "much like Yahoo or Microsoft, Google increasingly owns outright some of the media content it serves up for searches, rather than simply indexing and influencing it" (this is probably among the "dangers" of the acquisition, but a very smart move on Google's part). The best part for me was highlighted in a Business Insider look at the ins and outs of the deal: "Imagine pulling out your Android phone, looking up local restaurants on Google Maps, seeing Zagat reviews for restaurants around you, and perhaps a coupon for some of them." Now, that is a service I would use.

TOC Frankfurt 2011 — Being held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, TOC Frankfurt will feature a full day of cutting-edge keynotes and panel discussions by key figures in the worlds of publishing and technology.

Save 100€ off the regular admission price with code TOC2011OR

Publish an ebook without writing a word

InstebooksIcon.pngIt seems content publishing platforms are popping up everywhere, allowing anyone with Internet access to publish, well, whatever they want. Just in the past two weeks, Dymocks announced a new "end-to-end" self-publishing service for authors, and Uncram launched a publishing platform that allows people to publish status updates, tweets and other social media fodder to a "diary" page. But the one that really caught my eye was Instebooks, which launched 50 mobile phone apps that will allow users to publish ebooks from their phones.

The mobile part isn't the most interesting bit, however. As explained on Good E-Reader:

The basic format of creating a mobile phone ebook is to allow users [to]click on an image in Instebooks' gallery then simply speak their stories. The file is then automatically converted to a text file from the speech and uploaded as an ebook ...

OK. Wait. Anyone can speak his or her story into a smartphone, then publish for the world to read? (We'll leave whole the speech-to-text accuracy problem alone for now.) Yes, I can see the actual value in this — writers brainstorming, lecturers planning class sessions, etc. — but seriously, this will add a ton of potential to the 2 a.m. post-bar philosopher discussions, and it could well put the whole drunk-dialing of the '80s and '90s to shame. The press release notes that upon publication, if the user opts to make the ebook public (yes, there thankfully is a choice), Instebooks not only will publish it to a web page , but will also "update a user's Facebook wall with a summary and a link to keep a user's fan base informed."

Reuters percolates new aggregation site

CounterpartiesLogo.PNGSome might argue that we need another content aggregation site like we need a hole in the head, but Reuters might actually be onto something with its launch of Counterparties.com this week. Reuters teamed up with Percolate to launch a site that focuses on usability and content value. Felix Salmon, a major force behind the site's creation, explained how Percolate works on his Reuters blog:

Percolate is a fantastic engine for this kind of thing — a pared-down, ultra-simple website which just tries to link to the best and most relevant information we can find. You show it your RSS feeds and the people you follow on Twitter; it will generate a dynamic list of stories generated by your own personal tastes.

Using the Percolate engine, Reuters pulls the top 30 or so financial stories each day and links to them directly, only rewriting the headlines — as Jason Del Rey pointed out on AdAge, it's a bit like Drudge Report. In that same post, Del Rey also noted that monetization wasn't the first and foremost concern, quoting Chrystia Freeland, digital editor at Reuters: "We want to see who's using it, and how they're using it, before figuring that out." This is an interesting take on aggregation — instead of aggregating content based on my preferences — thus ultimately limiting discovery and my exposure to interesting content I might not otherwise find — it's aggregated based on a news service's tastes.

Related:

Older posts are this way If this message doesn't go away, click anywhere on the page to continue loading posts.
Could not load more posts
Maybe Soup is currently being updated? I'll try again automatically in a few seconds...
Just a second, loading more posts...
You've reached the end.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl