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Woza and the death of the Content King

By Nadler-Nir

The relaunch of Woza as ISP has proved to be a non-event…

Another hopeful links up with ICL (watch Absa kicking themselves on the asinine way they dumped 160 000 active users) and promises the media to syphon those evicted by our largest bank into its own list of dialup users.

Other companies and groups discovered that you can “White Label” connectivity through ICL – you buy the ICL’s infrastructure and client service and make it look like it’s yours. FirstRand’s EBucks funnymoney facility is doing just that, at about R61 per month.

Just imagine that one of the central sites – and sights – of your childhood has been demolished to make way to a shopping mall, offices or a parking lot. The feeling is sobering – something that was physical presence yesterday is hips of dust today.

It’s not Woza the ISP I’m referring to – it’s the old portal, Woza the content provider who – like others who started the online revolution in this country – hoped to make money from advertising and content. Both dreams crashed – and Woza had to close down its news service.

Looking back at the mid-90s we find that sexy assertion, “Content is King.” The idea was that it is content that will pull the masses online, keep them riveted, entice them to return and, in the process, generate a hefty income.

We all went for it. We looked for content that is “overwhelmingly unique”, found only on our portal, then we demanded content that is ‘sticky’ – causing visitors to return to us repeatedly. Next, it was the turn of “transactive content” – spurring visitors through an interactive relationship that will end in them purchasing something online.

But generating content turned out to be an expensive exercise. Content became a commodity that’s difficult to market – or sell. If anything, content proved to be the largest cash-drainer – after salaries, maybe, of the portals.

I think that it’s safe to conclude that the Content King is now dead – at least in the sense of independent content we saw on portals like Woza, where content was a published product with strong affinity with its predecessors in print-journalism.

Today’s “content” is almost indistinguishable from yesterday’s “information”. Last year’s best-selling content was the online by-products of TV Reality Show “Big Brother.” This year’s “Idols” show seems to be heading the same way.

That’s not The King. Not the mythical product of yesteryear, the allusive gem we sought to excavate – or create – and publish online.

Woza will vie for the price space of R59 – R61 per month for Internet access. You might even default to a Woza-like portal with Woza-like content. But this is an illusion – the WOZA you’re linking to makes a living from your monthly access fees, not from a single line, picture or feature loaded onto your browser.

You will not log on to the Woza portal because of the content, just as you will not choose a hairdresser because of the free magazines offered. The party’s over, the King has left the building.

Rudy Nadler-Nir is an independent strategist and Brain-for-Rent. Check Rudy’s personal Website, at: http://eclectic.co.za or email him at: mailto:rudyn@eclectic.co.za

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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