John Hagel has a
thought-provoking post
about microchunking and media businesses. It follows
on from Umair
Haque’s post
, in which Umair said that “unbundling” media (e.g. Disney
releasing tv shows
for free online) is only half the equation. The other
half – the real value – is in “rebundling”. By which he means
individual users doing their own aggregation and filtering of media. Oftentimes
Umair is hard to grok, but I think he nails it with this precise statement:
“rebundling will be the future of connected consumption”. If you
consider what’s
happening with tv
for example, you’re starting to see the more adventurous
vendors (like Tivo and BBC) give users the tools to personalize and organize
their tv-watching experience.

Back to John Hagel’s post, which nicely extends Umair’s points. John notes:

“The most powerful brands in the media business will be held by
successful intermediaries that help to consistently improve return
on attention
for audiences. In the process, the nature
of the brand promise will change in a profound way
.  It will be a
massive opportunity for media companies that understand the shift in economic
and competitive dynamics and that focus on the rebundling plays required to
build these brands.”

What this says to me is that there are opportunities here for “intermediaries”
to aggregate and filter all the media (pro and amateur) coming at us nowadays, a
lot of it directly via the Web. Some of those intermediaries will provide users
with the tools to aggregate and filter – e.g. Tivo, Rojo, Google,
Other intermediaries will directly do filtering themselves, for easier
‘consumption’ (yes I dislike that word) by users – e.g. what PaidContent
does for its users and indeed what NY Times does for its readers. Of course
there’ll be a lot of intermediaries who mix n’ match – e.g. Yahoo
provides both aggregation/filtering tools for its users, but also has a strong
human editorial process (take a look at the podcasts
for one example).

John goes on to make a distinction between product businesses and audience
relationship businesses:

“Here‚Äôs the test:  how open is the media company to providing
access to third party content on behalf of their audiences?  If the
answer is not very open, the company is primarily a product business.  If
the answer is very open, then the company is primarily an audience
relationship business.”

He’s suggesting here that being in the audience relationship business is the
way to go for media companies – i.e. don’t try and control the content. Google
has in fact already proved how successful this strategy is, because the raison
d’etre of the Google homepage is to send users away to external content.

I’m exploring more on all these themes in my Microcontent
Incidentally, I sometimes wonder where to place myself when I’m writing media
posts. John Hagel comes from a management/strategy background, Umair is the
Economics whizz, my pals at Rights Marketing are marketing folks, Fred Wilson is
VC, Jeff Jarvis and Scott Karp are real media. As for me, I’ve discovered my
focus is on the products – specifically the web technology. It’s what I
do as my day job too – analysis/research/product dev. So that’s my beat. Anywho,
this last paragraph is more for my benefit than yours 🙂 Everyone likes to have
their place in the world.

Photo: carpeicthus