Something's Gotta Give.

If you're a content publisher in today's environment, you're feeling a more than a little squeezed. You're tortured by the unforgiving math of trading of site traffic for ad serving opportunities. The game goes something like this:

  1. We need to make our number for the quarter.
  2. To do that, we'll need lots more traffic on key pages, since traffic means page views and page views mean impressions... the commodity we ultimately sell.
  3. Since we don't have them, we'll go out and get them, either by syndicating our content, through search marketing and optimization, or by getting some poor schlubs to click on OUR ads.

Enough already.

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Media owners -- publishers -- have simply got to break this vicious inventory cycle and embrace some fresh thinking. As a public service, I'm offering a new, patented four step program. Repeat after me:

"(1) I am no longer in the business of monetizing pages on a website. (2) I am now in the business of monetizing the value of my content and (3) creating value for marketers. (4) I will embrace a strategy that is based on syndicating and distributing my message and my environment across the greater web. (Read points 2 and 3 carefully: they are NOT the same as point 1.)

OK, so this probably sounds just a little nutty, but most really fresh ideas do. The truth is that most content publishers are intellectually, emotionally and physically isolated. In the vast blue expanse of the world wide web, their sites are tiny islands; their networks archipelagos. They are simply never going to beef up the 'traffic' of those islands to the degree that they'll be sustainable in the long run. The value of your content should not be confined to a tiny, hard to find island. Rather, your content and the contextual environment it creates should live in a thousand places... maybe a hundred thousand. It's out there -- where the consumers are -- that you'll create value for marketers and get paid handsomely for doing so.

Syndication. Distribution. Scale. Reach. These, I believe, are the transformational concepts that publishers need to empower in order to break the vicious cycle of "buy traffic in order to sell traffic." Our primal instincts of protectionism and control are the only things holding us back, and in a web environment, they are the enemies of scale.

Want to break the cycle? The solutions may be simpler than you would imagine. More to come.