Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How to choose the delivery format and channel for your news and information

These past few weeks I've been thinking a lot about online media. Actually, more like learning and online media.

I'm going to take it back a step and start on a tangent with long-players and short-players, the old dames of the music industry. You might remember the initials, LP, EP, SP; they denoted the length of the music.

That's where I'm taking my cue from when, now in the 21st Century, I think about not so much music, but news and learning media. You can break down news and learning (learning being podcasts, lectures, etc) media into the LP, EP, SP definitions by time, so that a 40min lecture is an LP; a 20min podcast is an EP; and a 5min news clip is an SP.

The LP,EP,SP analogy can be seen as blocks of concentration too. I might only have time for a short news clip or I might be on a train ride and have time for a whole lecture.

Back in the ol' 45 era you didn't have much of an option for media. You had the transistor for the news or the record player for the LP. The Internet has changed all that. using an iPhone as an example the one device can deliver you short-play and long-play audio and video.

The trouble is that this abundance of choice from the one device means that the content publishers need to think carefully about the manner in which they deliver their content. Delivering the right content but through the wrong channel might mean that your content never gets seen. Likewise delivering the right content in the right channel but in the wrong format could also be disastrous.

Just to give an example of the variety of channels for delivering your content here is a small selection:

SP media
Short bites of information, high volume and frequency.
  • YouTube
  • Yahoo! Video
  • Vimeo
  • Wikipedia's list of video services

    EP media
    mid-length media, once-a-week volume as example
  • The Podcast Network
  • The BBC World Service

    LP media
    Full length lectures, keynote presentations, etc.
  • iTunes University
  • YouTube Edu
  • Academic Earth

    That's just the tip of the iceberg my friends. Take your pick. It's a consumer's market out there.

    So when you're a content publisher where do you start? How do you pick the winner for the content you want to put out there to the world? I'm still learning myself, but what I have learnt is that there are a few key factors that will determine your choice:

    Choose the length of your content delivery based on a consumer's appetite for knowledge of the topic.

    Audio or video, choose based on what's required. There's nothing more frustrating than an podcast that refers to images or slides, similarly, a video of a guy standing behind a podium is pretty dull.

    News topics require constant periodic updates while specialist topics can have infrequent updates.

    Streaming or download
    You must accept that LP media will frequently be consumed over a number of sittings, therefore you should allow for downloading of this media, while SP media can be seen as disposable media and therefore streaming only is fine.

    Delivery channel
    This is totally subjective, but to me YouTube is a SP delivery channel, as it is streaming only I will only choose to watch SP media via YouTube. Whereas something like iTunes and iTunes University is an EP/LP delivery channel as it is a download channel.

    The consumer is spoilt for choice, the information age has truly arrived, as a publisher your voice is fighting amongst the cacophony of the whole world. Choose your format and channel wiseley!
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