10 Reasons Traditional Media Should Use The Tools WE Use

Why doesn’t traditional media like to use the Web 2.0 tools we use?  There are 5 very good answers:

  1. They want total control over their own user experience.
  2. They want a unique user experience that is differentiated from their competitors.
  3. They want to make all the profit from their own content.
  4. They want their content separated from the user-generated masses to ensure it continues to be seen as premium content.
  5. They want to drive traffic almost exclusively to their own website and become a ‘destination’ instead of being just one channel in big, vast, occasionally tough to search YouTube / Flickr universe.

These are VERY valid points.

BUT just to play devil’s advocate…

10 Reasons Why Traditional Media Should Use The Same Tools That Their Audience Uses

  1. Fish Where The Fish Are. The audience has clearly chosen the tools (like Flickr, WordPress, YouTube, etc) that THEY want to use.  Isn’t there a big win for a traditional media company that meets their audiences where they already are?
  2. No Learning Curve. Audiences know how to use the tools and don’t have to deal with usability issues, learn new functionality, etc.  That also means your production staff will be able to learn it and use it easily – HUGE perk.
  3. Best Place To Find New Users. Not only can existing audiences find content on your site, but new users who know nothing about you can stumble onto that content and discover you for the first time on places like Flickr and YouTube. YouTube has 250 million users worldwide.  How many do you have?
  4. Easy To Get User Generated Content. Your users can contribute to your content more easily by using tools that they already use
  5. Easier To Go Viral. Your users can share your content much more easily because the Flickr and YouTube tools are almost always easier to use, with better functionality than traditional media photo and video tools (including embedding, sharing, rating, etc).  And again, on YouTube, 250 million people have easy access to your content.
  6. Is Developing Online Technology Your Core Business? Traditional media often can’t keep up with the development of new technology. Developing the ultimate online video experience is YouTube’s core business and with Google’s bank account behind them, I’m betting that they’ve got serious resources going into the ongoing evolution and development of their player.Can traditional media say the same thing? They don’t have billions of dollars to invest in R&D, web developers, etc.   So MOST traditional media companies work with ‘enterprise’ solution companies who build video players, blogs, commenting, and photo tools that are generic, and more often than not, a wee bit clunky.  And by the time it gets customized and implemented into the infrastructure of a traditional media company, it’s usually out-of-date compared to its online-only rivals.
  7. Save $$$. Media companies can save some serious cash – MUCH less spending on buying, developing, maintaining, supporting tools a media player, a blog engine, photo uploading tools, etc.  Significantly less infrastructure, too.  And if you’re using a public platform, you’re also not paying for bandwidth, which is a considerable expense if your content is popular.
  8. Take Advantage of Community Development And Innovation Instead of Doing It All Yourself. In the case of tools like WordPress, there are large, talented communities developing amazing new plugins, designs, and modifications to the platform that are available for anyone to use.  The wisdom and resources of the crowds will almost always trump the evolution of an internal company product (unless, as is sometimes the case, that is their core business and their core product).
  9. Deliver A Precise Target Audience To Advertisers. When it comes to selling targeted advertising and hitting only the audience you want, who has the best-in-class tools to reach people of a certain age, certain location, speaking a certain language, who have a set of interests that perfectly match your content and have disposable income to spare?  And who can best measure consumption habits and conversions of those people?  The ones who are masters of aggregating and analyzing data.   Google vs a Traditional Media company – there’s no contest.
  10. It’s Going To End Up On YouTube Anyway. Finally, if you don’t use tools like YouTube and Flickr, your audience will put your content up there anyway. (If it’s good…) Wouldn’t YOU rather control the YouTube experience – make it quality, get some revenue from it, track it, etc – instead of letting Johnny in his basement control your YouTube experience?

Content Vs. Distribution

Here’s the big question for Traditional Media that might help answer the question of whether to use existing, popular tools – is your future the content business or the distribution business?

In the past, it’s been both, but today is much murkier.  It’s going to be VERY tough to stay relevant in the distribution business on new platforms.  There are simply too many different platforms and there are industry leaders that control or have access to the pipes on each one of these platforms.

The Future Of Media

The future is pointing to a world where an individual’s content consumption will be personalized through aggregation across a vast variety of content providers.  I don’t necessarily want all my news from one content company, all my comedy from one source, or all my music from one source.

I want a service that can aggregate all my favourite content from a wide variety of content providers, package it nicely, and deliver it all to me in one tidy package.

That doesn’t’ sound like something a traditional media company is set up to do.  (Can they continue to make the amazing content I want to read, watch, and listen to?  Absolutely. But work with other broadcasters?!!? The horror!)

Now Google, on the other hand, sounds like they’d very much like to deliver me that tidy little package. They’ve repeatedly said that they are not in the content creation business.  They’re in the distribution business and they’re in it for keeps.

And if I was a traditional media company, I’d have second thoughts before stepping into the ring with Google.  But that’s just me…

Questions!

I know Hulu is a possible exception  to this line of thinking – are there any other good examples of traditional media companies that are leading the pack with their own technology?

As an audience member, what tools would you prefer to use?

Are there good reasons for traditional media companies to use their own tools?