Sunday, July 07, 2013

"Cookie-cutter marketing" directed at me (constantly) is a sign of sustainability issues for Internet business models

As I’ve related, I’m planning to offer some new media through the more “established” system.
I wanted again to take a moment to note that I get a lot of inquiries, by email and phone calls, that seem, almost desperately, try to goad me into “monetizing” my work more vigorously. 
My world has many landscapes or components.  I get communications from parties concerned about only one aspect of media development and sales, from people who probably get paid largely by commissions, and pitch what sounds like “cookie cutter marketing” that seems totally irrelevant to my circumstances.  It honesty takes a lot of time to take the calls and get the parties to let go.  Furthermore, I do not need to be “checked up on”.
The world sees an end-product.  Since I go solo, there's no allowance for disruptions, especially those caused by infrastructure problems, weather, or worse.  It's turnabout.  It's just like when I "scope" someone, I see and end result.  I don't see the bad luck.  I know that's a "moral" problem, but the culture I lived in closely has been that way my whole life.  I've seen it isn't always like that elsewhere.

 I do understand that sales people must live in a world where their own product or service is “all that matters”.  But that’s not how it is with content developers.  It’s the content that goes out the door!
For example, I sometimes get pitched “marketing packages” for the two “Do Ask Do Tell” non-fiction books out there right now – the most recent one dates to 2002. Obviously this material is dated and needs to be updated. The blogs do that, of course (as does the old “” site, still up), but the updating does need to happen in a more commercial setting with a more fixed, permanent format.

As for the need for generating numbers by winning converts, I was particularly impressed by the pitch, when I was invited (without my solicitation) to an interview to become a life insurance agent in 2005, on how much emphasis there is on a "fast start" in developing numbers of leads online -- in the days before "friends", "followers" (stalkers?), and "likes". But soliciting and recruiting people is not what I am all about.  I guess I would fail as a Mormon missionary. I'm no Mitt Romney (or Jack Kennedy, Lloyd Bentsen or Dan Quayle).       
When deploying content covering a wide range of intra-related material, there are other things that happen, too.  On my review blogs (Movies, etc.)  I lump together media created by people largely from the commercial world, often working under different rules, like those involving guilds or unions.   Everything is in the same playing field, for my purposes;  occasionally visitors may not understand that if they look at postings out of context (of many of them). 
I wear two hats when it comes to the “it’s free” question.  I think that many items (like YouTube videos) that are “free” now could be monetized, and sold (in an Amazon Cloud or iTunes like service) for something like $.99 (including both video and music, which mp3 alone doesn’t do).  In other cases, placing older feature films on rent for something like $3.99 on YouTube is a good idea and ought to happen more often.  Short videos need to be purchased (not rented) in the iTunes-market philosophy, because people want to see them repeatedly.

But I also fought vigorously the proposals like SOPA and Protect-IP that generated the outrage around the end of 2011. The main reason was that SOPA particularly could have gutted the “downstream liability” protections (especially DMCA Safe Harbor) that make the modern “low barrier to entry” possible.

 But I think that in practice, part of the “threat” that the establishment fears is low-cost competition from content creators who for whatever reason don’t feel pressured to get the same financial results as everyone else.  I know this is a sensitive matter with some of the guilds. (A few years ago, Mark Cuban said as much bluntly in response to my comment on his BlogMaverick).   There have been predictions of the death of a lot of Hollywood as we know it, and that big movies might become “special occasions” with Broadway-like ticket prices.  (Oh, what happens when they film “Book of Mormon”?)  All of the concern about "free content" and low-cost deployment comport with Jaron Lanier's concerns about the effect on the middle class. 

The business models that made the “free entry” world that we know today result in large part from downstream liability protection for big corporate service providers – which some people disagree with because of the “deep pockets” theory – and from a business model predicated on consumer willingness to interface with advertising and – as is controversial now – to allow some information to be collected in exchange for “free”.  It’s true that in the past three years or so, the model has been enriched by “Likeonomics”, directing content and ads toward specific friends and followers.   I wonder how long we can sustain all of this. .  

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