Sunday, April 27, 2008

Brand Immersion: Particle Theory

I've been watching Ted Talks lately and am fascinated by the discussions of particles and particle theory. Tonight I heard Amy Tan speak about particles of truth and Brian Greene speak about particles (vibrating strings) that make up the universe - possibly the universal theory.

So I started thinking about universal theory and have begun trying to apply it to the idea of content and its relationship to the brands that sponsor it (advertising). This got me to thinking about the value of media, media properties, and massively distributed content. I've written a little bit about this in a few blog posts and in comments on other blogs including Jeff Jarvis' Buzz Machine.

Jeff recently wrote, "...I think newsrooms will need to be organized around topics or tags or stories because the notion of a section is as out of date as the Dewey Decimal System (hat tip to David Weinberger). Stories and topics become molecules that attract atoms: reporters, editors, witnesses, archives, commenters, and so on, all adding different elements to a greater understanding. Who brings that together? It’s not always the reporter or editor anymore. It can just as easily be the reader(s) now."

To which I responded, "...your observations of the press-sphere should also be a wake-up call to the publishing side of the business who have not yet embraced the vast opportunity associated with “particle theory”. When publishers realize that they are not selling “the page,” “the book,” or “the Web site” but the particles of content themselves, it will become clear that returning to profitability depends on their ability to create systems, processes and selling techniques that match advertiser supported revenue streams to content particles and not necessarily to the curated, branded environment [of a media property]. In this new model that fully embraces massively distributed content everyone wins. Advertisers associate their messages and brands with content that is most relevant; consumers encounter brands in context with content; creators (publishers) monetize not only their own distribution network, but the organic distribution network (long tail) of the content eco-system; and the long tail of distributors (the eco-system) gain some shared financial benefit for propelling the content particles to a broader audience."

As I think about this further, it seems that massively distributed content involves the breaking apart of media as we've traditionally viewed it. Instead of only monetizing blocks of content (media properties) where that content may be valuable for a fleeting time to the few who visit that place, value can be created or extended as the content breaks away from its bounded space. As content becomes an individual particle it can travel to, and live in many places. It can travel with bits of extremely relevant branding, advertising or sponsorship. Or it can attach to new places that have branding, advertising or sponsorship most relevant the fans of the new place.

To determine the value of content particles, I've started to line up a series of assumptions:

1. Content particles may extend active life (engagement or consumption) for longer periods of time.
2. Content particles reach more people over time.
3. Content particles ultimately reach more highly targeted audiences.

I'll be refining this theory over time as I continue to explore ways in which I consume content, desire to consume content, use content in my forays into the social Web, and observe my friends do the same.

What do you think?

1 comment:

paul isakson said...

I like this line of thought a lot. Nice work! Definitely going to be playing with this a bit. Thank you for sharing!