TIE Magazine #2: Internet Content Syndication 101


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Column by The Internet Content Syndication Council

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TIE Magazine #2: Internet Content Syndication 101

  1. 1. By The Internet Content Syndication Council COLUMN Internet Content Syndication I nternet content syndication is the controlled change for content, preferring to tolerate advertising messaging placement of the same content on multiple part- instead. Essentially, this means that online content is supported nering Internet destinations. “Controlled place- almost entirely by advertising. ment” means that content is placed on the destina- Because fragmentation is a problem for advertisers, it tion sites, and, to some degree, those placements are becomes a problem for users in the long term. Although Web directed by the content owner. “Multiple destination” advertising revenues have been growing at a phenomenal rate, placement of content is used to increase licensing fees the Web itself has mushroomed. In other words, the number and audience exposure. Destinations partner with the of content creators and publishers supported by advertising is content owner by either contributing value in return for valuable growing faster than the advertising budgets that support them. content or by sharing revenue. That means more publishers are sharing less income, which You have probably consumed syndicated content many times. means fewer resources are available to put back into their busi- Whenever you read an article by The Associated Press on Yahoo! nesses of creating content for their users. In essence, therefore, News, for example, that is syndicated content. RSS is often fragmentation threatens the quality of content on the Internet. referred to as “Really Simple Syndication,” and when you see The sheer volume of choices online now appears to be more of a RSS feeds for one publication placed on another site, that too, is danger than a blessing. syndication. Content syndication simplifies Internet advertising by pro- It’s also important to understand what syndication is not, as viding, to paraphrase Bill Bernbach, portable environments to there are other types of online distribution that fall outside its buy. With one simple media investment, advertisers can reach scope. On one end of the spectrum is fixed-site or single-site large, targeted audiences throughout the vastness of cyberspace distribution, in which content owners retain exclusive rights in a controlled editorial environment. Supporting syndicated over their content and drive traffic through search and display content allows advertisers to go where their audiences are rather advertising. This is not syndication, because there are not multiple than driving their audiences to them. destinations for the content. On the other end of the spectrum is viral distribution, where there is no formal partnership between The thing to remember is... the content owner and the destination site. Furthermore, with Although syndication itself is not new — it is, viral distribution, the content owner has no control over the des- in fact, as old as mass media — it is new on the tination of the content. Instead, it is given away to any publisher Internet, and it has the potential to benefit all the site that wants to carry it. constituents of the media industry. If you have ever struggled to reach an audience online, you Some content syndication takeaways: should consider Internet content syndication. With the number • content producers, syndication provides For of Internet sites at 175 million and growing, reaching an audi- an opportunity to increase revenue that can be ence is difficult and complex. On the surface, the sheer volume of reinvested into their businesses, increasing the choices online is a blessing for users. quality of their offerings. Of course, there is something for everyone on the Internet, • content publishers, syndication provides ac- For which means that everyone has a unique destination. The reality cess to high-quality content at affordable rates. is this range of choices leads to audience fragmentation. For any • advertisers, simple investment syndication For advertiser looking to reach a large audience online, fragmentation provides reach in a controlled editorial environ- presents an unmanageable number of channels, networks, and ment. technologies to research, negotiate with, and manage. • users, syndication provides higher-quality For This leads to a further difficulty because advertisers are usually content easily located. As fragmentation per- the only means of revenue for Internet content producers. Users sists, look to syndication to continue to enable have been notoriously resistant to paying subscription fees in ex- content to thrive on the Internet. TIE ~ 2/2010 ~ P11