Hello? Is Anyone There?
If you want to reach me, you give me a call, right? Or you email me, maybe you IM me or text me or site message me, right, but the point is you send a message from where you are to where I am.
You don't put a note on a bulliten board and hope I see it. Not even if that bulletin board is in a high traffic area.
You certainly don't stick a note on the front door of your business, and hope that I stop by. And you don't post a message on your website in hopes that I'll happen to cruise your URL this morning.
And yet, that's exactly how almost all content owners communicate with their audience on the web.
My entire relationship with NBC is through iTunes. I watch The Office and Heroes, two pretty solid shows.
But instead of catching them in Primetime, I have paid for a season of downloads. Each time there's a new episode, I get an email from APPLE, not NBC telling me to download it. I download it on my Apple Computer, from the iTunes music store, and watch it on my computer or Apple iPod in the iTunes viewing environment.
If I were NBC, I'd be less worried about getting a bigger piece of that $1.99/ download, and a lot more worried about developing a relationship with people who are consuming my media in remote environments. That email I get every week should be NBC branded. It should upsell me other NBC products I might like in the iTunes environment. It should offer me other opportunities to consume NBC's brand, both in my "comfort zone" (where I'm already spending time on the web) or on nbc.com.
Same goes for YouTube - CBS sticks their clips on the site, but they don't have a presence. In fact, they block the social functions that YouTube community members communicate with. To me, that's just ridiculous.
CBS Primetime, David Letterman, 60 minutes - these are brands that must have an interactive presence on YouTube. An intern who's a character on Dave's show must site message all day long with other YouTubers. That intern, if well cast, could potentially build up an audience of millions of people who aren't watching Dave's show now.
But that's not how most big content owners view their online experience. Instead, they put all their effort into scrawling messages at nbc.com and CBS innertube, just hoping that I'll find them there.
Media companies are fond of saying, "we're well aware that the only person making any money off of iTunes is Steve Jobs." And that may be the case. But it's not just because he controls the market and the infrastructure. It's because he's talking to us every day. We're coming to him to buy your product, and while he's chatting us up, you're back at your brick and mortar, filling your bulletin board with notes to us.