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Content value will be judged differently in the future. Static content — shows and movies as we know them today — that we buy once and engage with passively, will not be worth as much as active content — the shows and movies of tomorrow — that involve multiple purchases and viewer engagements.
In the old model, consumers make one purchase for one version of content. Soon, that model will be flipped on its head. In the new model, consumers will purchase a set number of content engagements. Like purchasing add-ons for interactive digital games, content viewers of the future will make additional purchases to enhance or open up more content choices.
This disruption of the content model might seem scary to studios producing static content, but this new model of content creation, design, and distribution will allow for greater monetization of the core content they create. Even better, add-on content and features will result in additional, multiple-tentacle revenue streams. These new revenue streams will extend the life of content and increase viewer engagement. Here are three new ways content producers of the future will monetize content and increase its value:
1. Viewers have the ability to buy more story options. Content in the future will be like a video game, allowing you to choose and create your own unique experience. Episodes of a show can be completed through multiple interactive tasks and pathways. If the show character needs to break into a building, he can do that by either setting off an explosion or picking the lock. Viewers will get to decide.
Content also will allow viewers to choose their preferred ending. Maybe the high school outsider gets the girl in the end, or maybe you like the ending where he figures out she isn’t all that. Rather than have fans of a show, like “How I Met Your Mother,” take to social media about a less-than-satisfying conclusion to the series, viewers can choose which ending works for them. Multiple and expanding options for a viewer’s favorite content will increase engagement and add additional revenue potential to core content audiences already love. Companies like Interlude have already built the software to enable this kind of decision tree engagement.
It will be a different experience for talent as well. While some viewers will kill off certain characters, there will be multiple story lines with different combinations of characters working together. Not everyone will make the same choice, and the exciting part for content producers is that most people will re-engage with the content and make multiple story choices. It’s a new opportunity for actors and content producers, who can think through and produce multiple angles to the same story.
2. The reality of the audience interaction as seen in “The Hunger Games” isn’t far away either. In these movies and books, the fictional audience of the competition could gift tools to the contestants. We already see this kind of technology implemented in gaming apps, allowing players to upgrade characters or vehicles. In the next generation of content, viewers will be able to purchase objects like tools and weapons for their characters. Now super fans who complain that the character on their favorite show should have just used a bazooka on the alien or zombie apocalypse instead of the fork they were given in the original script have a choice. The basic building blocks of this kind of software integration already exists across gaming and app products to make this type of interactive content a reality, and soon viewers can purchase that bazooka and let their character go to town on the alien zombie apocalypse.
Gamers expect customization of characters, which is an already highly monetized and lucrative revenue stream for gaming companies. Allowing viewers to customize characters in shows will help them identify and engage with the characters. Then they’ll share how they customized their content on social networks with their friends because they’re not just a viewer — now they’re a creator as well. And that kind of social earned media and viewer ownership is what every creator desires.
3. In the future, viewers can purchase additional characters for a show and add them to the storyline — or eliminate ones they don’t like. A supernatural buddy movie easily can be transformed into an “X-Files”-type experience by trading out the two buddy partners for a guy-girl duo with sexual tension.
We all have hated Joffrey on “Game of Thrones.” We were all waiting for his death. How would viewers feel about having the choice to eliminate characters they don’t like from a story? What if they could have saved Rob Stark at the Red Wedding for $20? I’m betting a lot of viewers would have made that purchase. In the near future, customizable content is going to allow these viewers to become creators and align content in a way that better satisfies them while resulting in direct revenue streams for the content producer.
The time viewers spend watching content is valuable, and if the content they watch is more satisfying and customizable to their preferences, they are more likely to spend more time with your content, engage with that content and, most importantly, spend money on it.
Bobby Campbell is an entrepreneur focused on monetizing emerging digital markets. He is CEO and co-founder of AdKarma, which works with online publishers to optimize online advertising inventory.