Deep Thought About The Future Of Website Monetisation

by Hugh Hancock on May 9, 2012

We’re usually all about the immediately practical advice here at Internet Marketing Gourmet. But occasionally, it’s useful to stare into that crystal ball.

Today we’ve got a hell of a deep thought post for you, from John Batelle, on the subject of Web content, and how it will be monetised in the future. Batelle’s a real heavyweight – founder of Wired Magazine, IAB board member, founder of the Web 2.0 conference, founder of Federated Media. And he’s been thinking long and hard about the problem of Web content – how hard it is to make money from publishing original content online, and just what’s to be done about that in the future -

“So what might a new approach look like? Well first and foremost, it doesn’t mean abandoning the site-specific approach. Instead, I suggest we augment that revenue stream with another, one that ties individual “atomic units” of content to similar “atomic units” of marketing messaging, so that together they can travel the Seussian highways of the social web with a business model intact.

Because if the traffic referral game has proven anything to us as publishers, it’s that great content doesn’t want to be bound to one site. The rise of Pinterest, among others, proves this fact. Ideally, content should be shared, mixed, mashed, and reposted – it wants to flow through the Internet like water. This was the point of RSS, after all – a technology that has actually been declared dead more often than the lowly display banner. (For those of you too young to recall RSS, it’s a technology that allows publishers to share their content as “feeds” to any third party.)

RSS has, in the main, “failed” as a commercial entity because publishers realized they couldn’t make money by allowing people to consume their content “offsite.” The tyranny of the site-specific model forced most commercial publishers to use RSS only for display of headlines and snippets of text – bait, if you will, to bring audiences back to the site.”

Just because this is a think piece doesn’t mean it’s short of useful information – I picked up a couple of new ideas on Web monetisation that I’ve not heard anywhere else, and I’ll be testing at least one of them out soon (ish). But it’s the far future view that’s really valuable here – thinking about content in a way I’d never considered before, you can start to prepare for big changes before they arrive, and be in the best position to exploit them.

Experienced Internet marketers may find Batelle’s view of content monetisation a little limited – he’s just talking straight ads, not listbuilding, affiliate marketing or product creation. But nonetheless, when he goes futurist, it’s still both interesting and useful to follow along.

What do you think the future of web monetisation is?

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