Thursday, March 02, 2006

Content may be king, but not everyone gets to be the king

Yahoo announced yesterday that it will be scaling back its efforts to generate original content and will shift to content generated by others, particularly users: This is the latest step in the evolution of the web and illustrates a number of key rules that are generally applicable across businesses:

- Stick to what you know. Yahoo is terrific at aggregating audiences and enabling navigation through content. Trying to create new a content brand, i.e., competing with players such as Disney, ESPN, CBS News, etc., but leveraging its strengths to drive audience to its content is a tough challenge, especially when the web makes access to any and all content so easy.

- Don’t compete with your customers unless you’re going to win. Becoming a content provider makes you less attractive to other content providers. While that discussion is pushed to the end of the article and disclaimed by Yahoo, I think that it must have been a larger influence than Yahoo was willing to admit.

And finally, we seem to look at each new medium as if it were just a variation on the old one: TV is radio with pictures – early TV shows were studio shows of people clustered around a microphone. The web is interactive TV – let’s create TV programming for the web. Oops, maybe user-generated content is the key.

Let’s see where the web goes next.