ESPN’s presentation from the mobile track of the Internet Summit was a message that I’ve heard them make before. Their rise to the top is in large part due to their philosophy on how users should consume content. The philosophy is basically to focus on creating killer content and not to dictate the rules on how it should be consumed. Put another way, it’s the message that’s important, not the medium.
I used to work in the newspaper industry. Their philosophy was also to create killer content, but they preferred that the user consume it by buying the physical paper. Newspapers care about the medium. Locking your content into a specific pipeline limits how your consumers can, well… consume. ESPN doesn’t care if you read their content on the website, watch it on TV, stream it on the iPad or take it to go in a podcast… just consume. They have found that the easier they make it for a consumer to gobble up their content the more content gets consumed. I know, a stellar concept right?
So how does this apply to you? First of all make sure you are creating killer content. If your message isn’t of the highest quality then maybe you shouldn’t be creating content. Second, don’t lock your content into a specific medium. This means you should ensure that your website is accessible to any device a user might be wielding. Only having a desktop version of your website in today’s market will limit the ease in which a user can consume your content. Here’s another shocker for you… make sure your content is formatted for mobile devices. Don’t just stop there though, make sure your content looks good on tablets, TVs, screen readers, RSS feeds, social networks, led billboards, smart refrigerators, holographic displays, laser projections on the moon… okay… I might have gone off the deep end there but it all still proves my point. A user is going to need to access your content from a billion different devices in the future. Locking that content into a desktop website means that you’ve set an expiration date on that content.
Forget the medium. Make sure your content is super accessible. The less friction you create for a user to consume it, in any imaginable way they want to consume it, the better chance you’ll have on them coming back for more. When you have people craving your content because it’s really good and really easy to consume, then and only then, you can worry about monetizing it.