Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Buying and Selling eContent: In Search of Online Retail Perfection

As noted in our earlier News Analysis, KeepMedia has been evolving a sophisticated, customer-focused retail model for premium content distribution over the past several months, applying many of the lessons learned in Louis Borders' years as a bookstore retailer to create a "content concierge" environment complete with online and emailed recommendations of content that would complement a reader's expressed interests. Louis laid out an excellent analysis in his keynote address on what's required to create an outlet for content consumers that brings the best of "bricks" retailing concepts to the "clicks" of an online content service. His demo of upcoming features for KeepMedia included a user-defined music channel that plays when visiting their site (in-store music!), video ads that play only on demand and can be forwarded to friends in email and other community-oriented niceties. Also expect more multimedia/interactive content, localization and more premium add-on items so that the basic MediaPass subscription package remains affordable. "A company is a value network" Borders noted in his presentation, noting the successes - and failures - of many major companies that either adhered to or ignored this maxim. KeepMedia is pushing to build a sophisticated value network within the confines of a "walled garden" of premium content. But as noted in Jean Bedord's report on the eBooks marketplace, walled gardens are hard enough to maintain for premium content in the physical world - wireless allows eBooks to come to the local coffee store more easily than going to the bookstore for coffee, for example. Getting the context of a sophisticated content consuming experience right is going to be as important for KeepMedia as getting magazine publishers to become more cooperative in providing deeper, timelier and richer context outside of their own "walled gardens." In the meantime, KeepMedia seems to be content with a "go slow" approach that will allow them to build a successful formula over time.
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