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Monday, 6 April 2009

The value of links in next generation media

We all know now that Media is in a state of flux. Every part of the media value chain has been democratized. Rather than a rigid flow through, media is now a complex web of production, distribution and consumption. It flows everywhere and understanding that flow is key to value creation and capture in next generation media.

One critical piece that connects the web of media is the link. This is the mechanism where media is distributed and aggregated. The link is the facilitator of the flow. New value creation has to start at the link.

Surprising though, I have seen very little such attempts in building models on top of links. An exception are link shorteners. Bit.ly in particular has been very thoughtful about the importance of links, which is why they are the first (correct me if I am wrong) to offer real time tracking of clicks on your links. Analytic however is just a first step towards building the foundational blocks for links.

I think we need the following:

i) Better metadata for links: I don't mean services that pops out stuff everytime you browse over the link. I am referring more to ambient type of awareness. Things like colour or font differences according to some metadata. For example, why can't links appear in different colour according to whether the people you follow has clicked on them?

ii) More actions for links: Imagine a a Bit.ly for music (we already have a wordpress for music, a dropbox for music, an alexa for music) where clicking on the link click plays the music rather than taking you to a page. Why do we need media players? Why can't we enable the link to be the player? If we can accomplish that, is the link equivalent to the media?

iii) Transaction capabilities: Why can't I transact on the link like buying a song? Can't we bundle distribution and payment into an easy to use service? Imagine if every link allows certain transactions to be done. What will happen then?

I think more can be done to understand the importance of link-based distribution and the kind of new models it enables. What I am saying is just very rough thoughts. I am very open to comments and pointers to other sources of information.

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