Why Media and Corporations Should Allow Content to be Embeddable

If you work at an online media company, or are a stakeholder for content on a corporate website, forward this to the decision makers and engage in an email or in person dialog.

How Media and Marketers are Missing an Opportunity
A few days ago, I embedded a slideshow of fantastic images from Beijing’s opening Olympic ceremony. An embed is code that I can easily paste into my blog post, and it will show media (such as a youtube video).

[The community will ‘scrape’ content that is valuable to them, often without attribution. Get ahead of their behaviors for your content and package it for them]

Within a few hours, a commenter informed me of the actual photography source, the Boston Globe. Essentially, someone grabbed each of the images from Boston.com and then uploaded them to DocStock.com and tagged them “public domain” with no attribution to the Boston Globe.

Essentially, The Boston Globe got ripped off, as they either paid for those photos, or sent a photographer out to capture the images. Photo ripping (or video, audio, or content on your webpages) isn’t going to go away, content on the web is distributed, and holding it close becomes more and more common.

Also, I do give Boston.com credit, the images they posted on their site shows them all on one page, unlike the annoying slideshows from other online news outlets that force you to click to see the next image. For Boston.com this has made it much easier for individuals to download photos and share without attribution, hence my call for them to get ahead of the curve.

Media and Marketers Should Provide Embeddable Content
Instead, The Boston Globe should have created the images in an embeddable media player or slide player that allows the images to quickly be shared from blogs, facebook profiles, and anywhere else those may talk about the Olympics. They should have links back to their site, give due credits, and even make a dynamic “learn more” at the end of the slideshow that they can change at will to recommend other content as it comes around. There are many widget developers that offer these services, that can also help content spread within Facebook and other social networks.

[Media Companies and Brands should Provide Content to Where Communities Currently Exist: Fish where the Fish are]

Attributes to Measuring Success must change
With the distributed web, measurement will need to change. For media companies (and marketers at corporations) hits, visits, and clicks are the most common way to measure success. This needs to go away, as these are not accurate attributes to measure as content flies around the web. Instead, they should focus on velocity (distance/time) as embeds fly and are spread to different sites.

All Content Should be Considered –although not all will be shared
Ever heard the phrase: “If you love it, let it go”? The same applies to corporate sites, who should repurpose presentations in Slideshare, and brochures and collateral in docstock, images in Flickr, and product demos in YouTube. The goal of marketing is to get the word out, so you best do it first, so you can at least have credit for brand attribution, as well as control to remove or edit it as things change. Remember, as a content provider, you should find the communities where they exist, and provide content to them: “Fish where the Fish are”

Get ahead of the curve and let your content be sharable, much of this is uncontrollable, you might as well lead this change, so you can at least track, edit, and manage how it’s dispersed.

32 Replies to “Why Media and Corporations Should Allow Content to be Embeddable”

  1. For what it’s worth, It’s interesting to see how the Olympics on nbcolympics.com have figured out how to contain most of this information on their site through streaming content.

  2. Great piece of advice, I would love to read more about measuring the distribution of such content.

    Similar topics are covered in a good book by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom, The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. The risk that they point to is that by decentralizing organization (or content in this case) normally the profits also decrease.

  3. I agree with your suggestion – it serves both the blogging community and MSM. By the way I follow you on Twitter – your tweets are always interesting.

  4. This is really about the misunderstanding about ‘control’ in a digital world. Brands are so worried about people taking their stuff, they try to hide it or DRM it. But anyone with half a brain can grab it, copy it, and distribute it on their own and then the brand loses control of it in an even worse way.

    It will be a great day when understanding about how digital information works is mainstream and their principals are understood as implicit.

    How can we make that happen sooner?

  5. Thanks Judy, I try to add value on Twitter, rather than discuss my lunch or participate in conversations only 2 people would care about.

    Thanks Mark, the olympics on NBC are doing it well, they’ve got control, but let viewers get what they want –cept embeds or archived videos on YouTube.

  6. I’m a bit disappointed with the NBC Olympics coverage online, but hey, at least its available! How about that relay race the other day? Wow.

    I just realized that the New York Times has (apparently) all of their video content on YouTube now. I have been frustrated several times by the lack of embedding from their main player. Doesn’t it stand to reason that they stand to gain by sharing their own branded player?

  7. The key thing for web publishers to think about it is that embeddable content (delivered as widgets) becomes gateways back to your website. While it’s great to get content out there and for people to see the attributions, the ‘click here to see more’ link is crucial.

    Widgets and embeddable content act as ad units which are essentially ‘free’ in the classic sense. Rather, you’re earning placement around the web by making great content available. Now, isn’t that something we should all strive for? 😉

  8. Great post Jeremiah, particularly the idea that you need to focus on velocity and distance as measurement tools. An embeddable widget is a data generation machine when used properly. You can track them and still get views/hits type info, albeit from other sites, but this is tremendously valuable because it helps you build a book on your core customers habits. You can create traffic back to your site, because an embedded widget is essentially a promo piece for your site, and you can also get good data on which places you should invest in following your customers to interact with them off site. I try to educate all of my clients on the value of embeddable content, a properly managed widget is a marketers dream, imo.

  9. We are exploring embeddable content and widgets with our B2B marketing clients. Very difficult to get them to move from the microsite/registration model because of their demand gen needs, but they are starting to get that a widget on the desktop beats a downloadable white paper — starting.

  10. Jeremiah, this practice is something PR people need to take to heart as well as marketers. Not only does it provide content to the media (PR’s usual target) instantly in a “package” but it also encourages the kind of easy sharing across web platforms you mention. Your suggestion falls into two “best principles” of media relations on the social web: “Edit for More, Not Less” and “Make Everything Sharable.” Thanks for another great post.

  11. Great post. Thank you for bringing this up. DRM has been proved that doesn’t contain user sharing so it’s time to move on and get ahead of the curve as you suggest. The Q is, how long will take for big media companies to get it?

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  13. We are exploring embeddable content and widgets with our B2B marketing clients. Very difficult to get them to move from the microsite/registration model because of their demand gen needs, but they are starting to get that a widget on the desktop beats a downloadable white paper — starting.

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