The term “Content is king” has been floating around the internet since 1996, when Bill Gates said in a speech that ‘Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the internet, just as it was in broadcasting.’
But over the past decade and a half, this hasn’t exactly been the case. Content has been devalued to the extent that people have expected to get it for no charge. From written copy, to music, images and video — there’s been a generally accepted status quo that it’s okay to access this content without having to pay for it.
However, recent trends seem to indicate that this era is coming to an end and consumers have made their peace with being charged for quality content. Business Insider recently posted a very interesting infographic on why the change has come about. They’re calling it Content 4.0 and point to four factors that have contributed to this about-face. These factors are all products of the technology we use and enjoy today:
When your content ticks all those boxes, then consumers have shown to be more than happy to part with their hard-earned cash to access it.
As the infographic shows beautifully, there is a sweet spot where content is beautifully presented, adds value and meaning to the quality of the research, is available whenever and wherever we need it and generally makes us feel something.
If you think of recent success stories, such as the New York Times well-crafted content strategy, the Kindle, the iTunes store, downloadable apps — they all manage to satisfy all of these demands to varying degrees, which enables us to feel the value is worth paying for.
Back in 1996, Gates said during the same speech that “A major reason paying for content doesn’t work very well yet is that it’s not practical to charge small amounts. The cost and hassle of electronic transactions makes it impractical to charge less than a fairly high subscription rate.” That was a problem that hampered the creation of valuable content for some time but has been successfully solved.
Content 4.0 goes on to explain the various factors that have converged and made us more willing to spend. In many ways, these factors are a product of the amount of time we spend on the internet. Now we know how valuable portable, convenient content is from providers like Amazon and Apple, we are comfortable with the concept of micropayments and we no longer fear using our credit cards on the internet.
Micropayments for apps and to play games like Farmville have attuned us to how this economy works. We still enjoy free services, such as streaming music services but we know that we get better, more convenient content once we pay for it. Freemium models are a wonderful advertisement for the benefits of paying. Finally the war against piracy has won some notable, high-profile battles and people are less willing to take the risks that they once thought nothing of.
Nearly two decades after everyone started believing that the playing field had been levelled for the thinkers and visionaries to produce content which would find them a worldwide audience, it seems that dream could be within reach.