Searching "Focused Content Channels" Instead of The Web
Originally published June 28, 2011
We here at The Auto Channel believe that The Internet will evolve from the current “search within the content cloud” into a narrower and more successful search of trusted single subject “Focused Content Channels”.
These single topic destination channels offer users direct access to a professionally curated library of current and archived news; current and archived information and data and social media elements, all interconnected and delivered to viewers as text and/or video and/or audio and/or images.
The single topic focus of these channels will enable within-channel search to always return virtually 100% relevant query responses, that can eliminate the chaos of today’s web search induced information glare.
Successful “Focused Content Channels” will need to generate the majority of their web traffic from the channel’s own “top of mind awareness” generated by online audience’s preconceived understanding and expectations of “being able to find everything” they will be looking for” on the channel. Additional audience will discover these channel’s from random content cloud web searches.
Some examples of these direct visitor “top of mind awareness” sites include; Google, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, ESPN, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Amazon, The Weather Channel, Huffington Post, New York Times, WSJ, Wikipedia, Craigslist, CNET, Yelp, and Drudge Report.
Yet surprisingly from within the most important commercial category, automotive, no single automotive entity has risen to become the “top of mind destination” for total automotive content. Whether because of a lack of promotional budgets, lack of correct editorial or content philosophy, non-support of a total automotive content library, or not having the knowledge to economically produce content, or not having a channel's brand visibility in traditional media to create the tipping point to become the automotive content channel.
With more than 25 years of automotive content production and distribution experience, The Auto Channel ownership believes that now, with a partner's participation is the exact moment in time to break from the pack and establish The Auto Channel as the multi-platform destination channel for everything automotive.
Through the power of a long-term cross promotional alliance, our partner can become the highly visible title sponsor of The Auto Channel, directly linked to largest and most complete independent automotive content sources.
Participation will be structured as a promotional alliance, eliminating out of pocket media costs, yet delivering top of mind brand exposure, co-op and merchandising opportunities, PR and social media opportunities.
With this cross promotion our partner will become the only brand synonymous with The Auto Channel’s total automotive content across every media platform, including but not limited to; The Web, Smart Phones, iPads, Broadcast Television and Radio, Cable Television, Online Television and Radio, Live Automotive Events, Newsletters, and exclusive Auto Channel In-Store Signage, Auto Channel In-Store Events and Merchandising, Co-op Revenue Opportunities and whatever else the future brings.
Changing The Internet From “Searching the Content Cloud” to “Searching Focused Content Channels” Why Now?
During the past 12 years of the Internet the search engines ruled, but their days as King are numbered.
The Internet was the world’s first interactive mass media, and during its infancy everyone had to learn its how’s, its why’s and decide if and when they should participate. Every positive decision created the need for each entity to build their “web site”, and forced them to discover methods to attract a meaningful audience to their sites.
At this same time “search engines” were invented and developed to make finding the information and data published on the web possible and commercially viable.
But the continuing exponential growth of the web by users, but more importantly by web publishers, blog publishers, and scammers have generated enormous amounts of content to be funneled into the content cloud, engorging it to an overstuffed and unmanageable size and configuration, and so things began to change.
The enormity of searching, deciphering, digesting and ranking content from a virtually unending cloud of data, and despite continuously “improved” search engine technology and robot criteria, search results began presenting users with inaccurate or misleading citations or non- relevant citations on first or second page results.
And so now after 12 years, using Google to “search the web”, as the majority of users do, has changed from being an accurate and useful query tool, into a conduit of information glare and chaos.
An example of this growing search inaccuracy is the recent high page rankings given to: thin second and third rate web sites; scrapper sites that are one headline deep; blatant copyright lawbreakers; and MFA (Made for AdSense) sites.
Non-helpful query responses have been increasingly elevated to first page result positions, while concurrently the Google search algorithm is burying high quality information and data from historically highly ranked sites, on search result pages that are never seen.
This inaccuracy has created what we describe and named Information Glare; a cacophony of search results, some accurate and helpful, some irrelevant and some absolutely ridiculous results that hide the most relevant citations for information sought, while minimizing the discovery aspect of search.
“You can't see the forest for the trees”
Information Glare from inaccurate and less than desirable web search results is also helping reduce the ROI of web advertisers whose interactive ad campaigns, one-dimensionally rely on paid search to drive traffic and actions, without getting any online branding benefits for their investment.
The old axiom “can't see the forest for the trees” is quickly becoming a more accurate description for web search advertising and marketing.
To try to counter these inaccuracies, Google and others have added new web search criteria and “Bubble filters” to once again return acceptable cloud wide search results. But instead of reducing information glare they have become a new media gatekeeper, with their robotic decision makers attempting value judgments by weighing new criteria; such as locality, cookie analysis, click percentages and many other variables to determine a web site’s “authority” and “relevance” and page ranking placement.
Virtually overnight these changes have punished historically “better” segment leading top line content providers by moving them to the Siberia of search results… off the first page or two, the only pages that deliver meaningful traffic. Today search results are providing users fewer top line answers to their queries, and have raised underserving non- relevant web sites that “know how to play the SEO game” to first page placement, sites that monetize stolen traffic with network CPC ads primarily from Google AdSense… absurdly the very thing Google claims it sought to eliminate.
These failed changes; along with the growing importance of “top of mind” organically grown social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are heralding the decline of web cloud search as the primary method to access relevant and useful information, and as well as diminishing search result advertising as a primary online advertising and marketing technique.
Branding Branding Branding
This growing paradigm should prod smart marketers to not rely on arbitrary web search results to power traffic to their web sites, and deliver their brand message, but to once again recognize and support the intrinsic branding and results value of “Co-Branded Focused Content Channels” that serve participants with interest in a single topic vertical, whether large or small, consumer or industry oriented.
Before the web’s search engines changed the way businesses advertise and consumers conduct research, “top of mind share” went to brand name content.
No matter the medium; whether specialty magazines, specialty retailers, specialty catalogs, focused cable networks, libraries, newsletters, subscription services, local broadcast shows, local newspapers, weekly newspapers, or broadcast outlets, the public intuitively knew where to go to find the relevant information they sought.
But during the age of web cloud search, the importance of “Brand Name Content” diminished due to the new and exciting technology that allowed web users to successfully find what they searched for on the World Wide Web, a repository of more information and data than has ever existed in a single entity.
Like the past’s railroads and buggy whip manufacturers, virtually all brand name media were slow to react or truly understand the immense value of this new medium, and were reluctant to adjust their core understanding of who they were, and what they needed to do to remain relevant.
In the new interactive world any advantages that legacy media thought they had were easily trumped by the consumer’s new power to go online and get information and answers they wanted immediately from the new media entities no matter what their brand or masthead.
These new publishing entities (The Auto Channel among them) understood the reality of the web and published content as text, video, audio and images, not monthly or weekly or daily but minute-by-minute - digital information and data curated by professional editors and producers made instantly available to everyone online in the world.
Search Engines Powered The Auto Channel.com to Success; Those Were The Day’s My Friend, We Thought They’d Never End
The age of web search engines ushered in a true but relatively short-lived democratization of content distribution. The web leveled the playing field and web search provided the entrepreneur creators of a “better mouse trap” web site (including TheAutoChannel.Com) a more than equal opportunity to economically reach a worldwide audience.
These “better mouse trap” web sites were able to attract and then monetize their audience through the organic growth of viewers sent from a search site’s (like Google or Yahoo) first page placement of their relevant and quality, no matter what the site’s pedigree.
With Google and the other web search engines acting as a “Table of Contents” for The Auto Channel’s deep wide and relevant automotive information, and our technologically leading presentation of that content, the golden age of web search provided The Auto Channel, our home grown independently owned and self-funded automotive web site, a level playing field on which to attract and monetize a viable audience.
The Auto Channel took advantage of the opportunity and quickly grew into a leading web portal with one of the largest automotive focused audiences and commensurate advertising revenue.
But after the past 10 years of exponential growth of content offerings on the web (some good, much bad), and the meddling of SEO manipulators, searching for and finding relevant information from a web search became no better than and Easter Egg Hunt.
So now we believe that a new age will emerge... an age in which consumers and advertisers will eliminate the chaos of information glare by searching for content not in a cloud, but within “Focused Content Channels”, entities that guarantee the delivery of 100% relevant query responses, links to information that will expand the knowledge of the searcher while concurrently providing a 100% relevant audience for ultra-targeted single industry advertisers to communicate with.
Eliminating the Chaos of Information Glare After the Age of the Web Wide Search Engine
The coming age of “Focused Content Channel” search, will present an opportunity for a smart few to gain additional long term visibility and brand impact through their participation with a single subject media entity that fills a need and desire for relevant information delivered clearly, in focus, without the glare of non-relevant information.
Similar to the great brand name media entities of yesterday, but with some major differences…tomorrow’s successful branded Focused Content Channel must contain infinite quantities of single subject content, and make it accessible forever. Its management must be conversant with and be experts in the creation, curation and delivery of content economically; as text, images, video, audio and/or whatever comes next.
The web version of a “Focused Content Channel” must be translatable to, and be monetizable on every digital distribution platform; whether mobile, in-home, out of home… everywhere an information appliance is located so must be the “Focused Content Channel”.
The Auto Channel, the Automotive “Focused Content Channel”
In 1986 The Auto Channel founders recognized, invested in and financed the first step in the development of an automotive media vertical that would offer original and curated content within a totally automotive centric network. It would be distributed via then traditional and future technologies when developed. Automotive focused information presented in a way that had the potential to dominate the segment and attract visitors from the “car crazy” society, it was a good idea in 1986 and it is a better idea today.
Over the past 25 years The Auto Channel has positioned itself to become the “Automotive Content Vertical”, and to capitalize on the enormous financial benefits of “owning” the brand name information channel in the automotive vertical.
The vision 26 years ago of the founders of The Auto Channel:
· The automotive category was advertiser rich and relevant content poor.
· There was no holistic Brand Name entity serving the automotive vertical.
· Interactive television would become the norm and a one wire, one screen technology would emerge.
· No matter the medium it would take unique creative content to attract and maintain an audience.
· In the future’s interactive multimedia world, having the experience and knowledge of economical production techniques could be the difference between success and failure.
· The early adoption and utilization of technology was paramount.
· The aggregation and cu ration of unlimited archives of automotive information and data would be a vital part of our long term offerings and success
· The metaphor for The Auto Channel’s long term success as an advertiser supported media entity, was to build the channel like a three legged stool
Leg One: Offering automotive (interactive) content that people are really interested in, content that will attract a meaningful audience over the long haul…
Leg Two: Providing advertisers with a platform from which to communicate directly with their customers and potential customers, a platform that attracts and delivers 100% automotive focused visitors.
Leg Three: Having a meaningful outreach program of distribution, promotion, marketing and advertising
So what has happened to The Auto Channel over the past 26 years?
In 1987 the owners developed a linear version of The Auto Channel; which was produced and tested as a nationally syndicated television program in 1987, 1988, 1989. The test was a success, The Auto Channel Weekly TV Show aired on local TV stations that reached a total of 50% of the U.S television audience.
The Auto Channel Weekly TV Show was offered to broadcast station partners as a 30, 60 and 120 minute version, its national average was a whopping 0.9% broadcast rating. The Auto Channel’s 100% automotive focused program generated a strong Male 18-49 audience, and research report showed that there was a national desire for our proven format; we were ready to take the next steps to launch The Auto Channel Platform nationally.
Back in those pre-digital days the only way to quickly gain national distribution for a niche programming concept like The Auto Channel was to secure cable carriage, and that meant obtaining a cable partner or owner. So for the next 2 years we continued to develop blue prints and fine tune spreadsheets for our soon to launch national automotive media platform.
During this period we identified thousands of already produced automotive programs from distributors and producers around the world. We negotiated prices and began the contracting. We researched and identified the technical equipment necessary to launch our channel, and began to assemble the staffs necessary to make The Auto Channel successful.
During 1992 and the first half of 1993 we made partnership proposals to the leading U.S. cable companies and in 1993-1994 believed we had gained a moving forward 50/50 partnership commitment from a group comprised of 3 cable giants, but after a year of meetings, sharing programming schedules and budgets, divulging programming sources and everything else that goes into developing an operation plan for The Auto Channel Network, the lead partner told us that our already proven and planned concept, an automotive oriented network wouldn’t work. But within a few weeks of their rejection, the former cable partners decided to clear a channel position to carry their own automotive and auto racing channel, which by the way has proven to be a big money maker with a value in the mid-hundreds of millions of dollars.
So there we were in mid-1994 missing the one leg of our stool that was outside of our control, the distribution leg, without which no revenue could be generated or programming distributed.
Legs One and Two were ready to go with the actualization only following commitments for Leg Three, but like a three legged stool with only two legs our progress was frozen, until The Internet came along.
In 1995 we put together a team of writers, programmers, IT guru’s, data specialists and invented an interactive version of our concept: www.theautochannel.com. The team created the website and after presenting it to Pennzoil we obtained a two year advertising and charter sponsorship agreement.
Sixteen years later what our team of developers created, invented and produced then remains the bones for what The Auto Channel has become, a robust, accepted automotive website, that was futuristic then by pioneering the use of streaming audio and video, and a list of Internet Firsts as long as a Rolls-Royce wheelbase.
The Auto Channel went on-line in ernest in January 1996, and by February 1996 began to make web history by being the first web site used to launch a new car model - the Jaguar XK8 from the Petersen Museum in LA - and streamed it “live” to millions on the then world wide web (ok we could count this first new car audience in the hundreds…not bad for the dark old days.). Our long list of Internet firsts is too long for this presentation, but please ask about them, we are more than happy to brag.
The history of advertiser supported media has shown that success follows a traditional, tried and true path, no matter the technology or medium. Once the tipping point of “top of mind” awareness of an entity was reached, like a perpetual motion machine it continued to grow and benefit from that asset.
From Poor Richards Almanac to Life Magazine to TV Guide to today’s CNN and The Weather Channel, the public knows and goes, and does not need to stop at a search engine to help them get there.
Stand-alone communication channels that continue to offer relevance and continue to reinforce their top of mind awareness, maintain commercial success through their highly ranked audience position.
Successful entities continue to expand their audience by offering more of what society wants and needs. And maintain their critical mass of “top of mind awareness” by hyper-generating a mass societal understanding and awareness of what they are and what they do, this ubiquitous public understanding powers the entity’s growth of their audience and earns them advertising and/or subscription revenue with which to support continuing content production, operations and distribution.
The Auto Channel started as a TV show, migrated to The Internet and with more than 5000 video elements is poised to fulfill its destiny as a 24x7 Television Network, airing in 200 U.S.TV markets on digital tiers of local broadcast stations.
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The growing ubiquity of the high-speed Internet and its interface with the traditionally passive television will rapidly render a new generation of "Me-too TV" streaming video entrants with an edge: They will repackage exiting on-demand and linear content, and pair it with search and discovery tools and lower price points.
The Auto Channel is ready, are you?