Online don’t mean for free

Photo by PaidContent, from

Content is king. Content is dead. Content is free. No way.

Get used to the idea that you won’t just be paying for books online, but new stuff that’s a bit richer than what you get for free already.

We buy MP3 downloads no problem there, and we don’t seem to mind buying Apps from the Appstore because they’re better than all the free stuff you find online. Fine. The question is what else would you pay for? How much would you spend? Is a micropayment five quid or 5p? As usual, the answer is it depends.

News International is spearheading a move for paid news content onlne. Not an idea we find very appealing in the UK, given the BBC is pre-paid. But already other newspaper groups are looking at how to charge. Will Lewis from the Telegraph is even setting up a skunk works team to find new forms of content that might rescue the dying newspaper world. It’s finally happening.

I was talking about this with Mat Heinl at Moving Brands yesterday. We were comparing notes on the post-digital world, and the inability of brands to work through a rich mix of online and offline media. For me the question is not just what would you pay for – the subject of my next white paper – but who you would trust enough to buy from online. FT? Yes, maybe. The Guardian? Yes, I just bought the App. iTunes, sure. The Wall Street Journal? The Sun? Hmm. See what I mean.

This is the thing. The brands that will flourish in the new post-digital world of media, will be the ones we trust and value enough with our card details, just ilke we do with Amazon.

Clearly the point is that far from levelling out, the online content world is due for a threshing. Some brands will stay on top, the others will fall through the cracks.

Mike Exon

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