Trust and Transactions in Media

Tim Oren writes that “from an investor’s perspective, there’s the possibility that one of the major value chains in modern society – media and advertising – will be rearranged, at least in part. That makes an economic analysis of the issue rather interesting.”

Google’s business model is provocative in partially reassembling the bundle from the advertisers’ point of view. Through search related ads, bundling around declared interests rather than demographics can be achieved. Adsense goes further in attempting juxtaposition of ads with actual content on the same basis. I’m awaiting with interest the form that advertising will finally take on Google News. Google is leveraging cheap cycles and a lot of algorithms research against the bundling needs of advertisers, but largely leaving the readers to fend for themselves. But, it has the advantage of a clear business proposition.

RSS aggregating software and services are a provocative attempt to let the readers build their own bundles. This is impossible in the legacy media, and creates a sharp differentiation from the old style of bundling. The juxtaposition of citizens’ media (blog posts) with legacy media content ripped from its home site goes one step further in exploding the apparent value of the old bundle. Reader side aggregation can thus destroy old value, but hasn’t so far shown an ability to extract serious revenue from readers.

Technorati is another cut. It’s not a bundling solution at all. Instead it seeks to reduce the ‘search costs’ associated with following threads of interesting discussion across the Web. If the transaction costs of retrieving individual information bits is reduced, the need and attraction of bundling is reduced. But, there’s also the problem of a lacking business case. Perhaps that can be found from the advertisers’ side. If promotion to demographic or general interest bundles is giving way to selling by influence, then tracking the conversation becomes of value. Technorati appears to be a radical unbundling hypothesis on both the reader and advertiser sides.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.