Home > 24 Hours of Moab, Advice, Journalism, Moab, Mountain Biking, Multimedia, Technology, Video > Aggregation vs. Originality – The Real Online Content War

Aggregation vs. Originality – The Real Online Content War

Businessweek.com Editor and Chief John Byrne, recently said, “It’s not, as some people say it is, “online vs. print,” because the contrasts are actually more insidious and dangerous than that. The more threatening contrast is between aggregation and original content — because aggregation is something that’s cheap.”

His words, though now buried deep in the archives of Media Bistro, ring true as the economy tanks and publishers are telling online editors to do more for less.

As a freelance writer myself, the real problem hits home in a different way: it requires me to produce original content that can be packaged and neatly wrapped around aggregated content. I can’t approach an online editor and suggest just a video. Nope. It’s got to be a video, with a long tail effect. Say something that can support previous or future editorial content without becoming stale our outdated.

Just this past week I finished a short course preview video for Bicycling.com. The final product, less than seven minutes long, was complimented with an interactive GPS-supported map, links to Moab bike shops, and every mountain bike ride Bicycling.com has ever mapped in Moab.

Essentially a racer could watch the course preview video, read expert advice on what to eat during the race, click on a link to rent a bike, and then decide which post-race rides to tackle. All without leaving the page.

The fresh editorial content was the course video and the map. The aggregated content everything else. The long tail is that the race happens every year in the same spot, and unless we have a major flood, the course isn’t going to be changing too much. The evergreen angle is people are always going to Moab, and this list of rides creates a digital guidebook of sorts.

But it also had its problems. Bicycling.com was limited in how they could package it online, and even though I think it turned out well, there is room for improvement. Online editor Dave L’Heureux, did a fantastic job working with me and my production team to push boundaries, but he was still constrained by budget and ad placement.

The next step will be when publishers begin to see content and editorial as the same, and when they are able to produce new editorial content and wrap it with aggregated older editorial content, while having the flexibility to package the content appropriately. Of course it’s already happening on some levels, but not everywhere.

So if you are thinking about pitching multimedia remember to ask yourself the following questions, and if you can answer them well, then you’ve got a pretty good shot of at least being heard.

  1. How does this content support/complement content already on the site?
  2. If I were to go back in five months, would I still find this interesting?
  3. Can this content standalone in a video player, while also being able to be interweaved into other pages on the site?
  4. What is the serviceable information readers/viewers will get from this content?

  1. October 9, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I love this article Tim. A nice reflection on your last video. I must say I find online content a very interesting field and would enjoy learning more about it in more of a class setting.

    I really feel that we are stuck in a sense when it comes to content. At my company everyone is afraid of “STALE” content more than the devil himself. I definitely think that there are a handful of sites out there (see: http://www.notcot.org) that are taking a different approach.

    It is great to hear that people are not just posting one-offs. I really feel that content should be mashed together to produce a page which is filled with value. A treasure box if you will.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. January 11, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so, Excellent post!

    I’m Out! 🙂

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: