We've all thought it on the publisher side, the agency side and the client side; and sometimes we have wanted to rant about it out loud. Who do consumers think they are? Seriously? Consumers are greedy, selfish, self-absorbed and don't get it. They want everything for free. Do they understand that we are not here so they can steal from all of us? No. There's a value exchange, but they don't seem to think that they owe anything to that value exchange, and we tolerate it.
Why? Because the pace of technological adoption outstripped the pace of luddites controlling those companies to understand what was happening. Apple proved with iTunes that if you develop a good product and make it easy to use, consumers will gladly pay for the music, or the movie. It's just not worth the hassle to steal it at a good enough price point. But the greedy execs wanted to put a stranglehold on content, and the consumer just didn't want to play their game. And this is where we ended up. With a consumer that says, "Oh, I'll pay for it if I like it, but I want it first." You don't want to pay for the new Jay-Z album? Ok, but get off your butt and go paint his living room, you selfish jerk. And while you are there, tell Beyonce that she shouldn't get paid a few million to be in "Dreamgirls," too. Maybe she'll give you a few bucks to buy your popcorn the next time you go to the movies.
Why are we all trying to figure out ways to give our product away for free anyway? Aren't we devaluing the content overall? When someone asked me at a streaming media conference what would happen when people were able to fast forward through a pre-roll, I asked him back, "Why would we ever let them do that? Didn't we learn anything from TV and TiVo?" Better ad formats? Sure. But no ads? No way. But we need those better ad formats! It's the type of ads we are giving them. We are annoying them. We are even annoying each other. It's not that we have gotten complacent. It's a combination of public company pressures on short-term goals, and senior level luddites not wanting to risk their fat cat salaries. It is a toxic formula that breeds an aversion to change.
As I have mentioned before, pre-roll, for lack of a better word, sucks. It is a holdover from lazy traditional thinking. Can we all just agree to adopt ScanScout's technology and move on? In fact, all of our ad formats basically suck. It's a problem with our technology and the way we consumerize it. Very few companies, MySpace being one of them, are bridging the gap of content and advertising, and how marketers support all of this. The subscription model is just fundamentally flawed online because the information, in vast quantities, is so available in other places that the consumer is just unwilling to pay for exclusive content. Yes, exclusive content is a value add, but most of it is just not enough of a value add that we are willing to foot the bill. In offline, consumers don't really comprehend that the vast amount of content they get is repeated and reused, with just an added smidgeon of exclusivity. Online, this is readily apparent.
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