Culture is future » Financing and economic models

07.18.2011

Always Further - Referencing, prescription of cultural contents - Interview of Mats Carduner, fifty-five

 

What is the goal of the company “fifty-five”?

55% of the individuals who go to a store, complete a purchase. On the Internet, this rate of “conversion” represents less than 2%. The goal is to improve this figure, that is to say to increase the number of users who become “involved” on the website: consultation of the content, engagement with the brand, act of purchase or development of the relationship with the client.

The company fifty-five was strongly influenced by Google – controller of the Internet traffic – after the following observations: advertising brings traffic relatively efficiently, but the visitor, once on the website, does not « transform ». There is a loss of efficiency after the acquisition of the audience. In addition, the acquisition channels are becoming more numerous, porous and complex to understand.

The aim is to determine if the traffic achieved the conversion goal of a company and if this conversion is not financially charged several times to the company.

According to you, what are the main mechanisms used for referencing works and cultural services?

With regard to cultural products and the media, the analysis should be from a side centric point a view (all the events happening on the website from the point a view of the Internet user): time spent, navigation, engagements with the content, achievement of the conversion, etc.) but also from an ad-centric point of view, that is to say by analyzing the elements that direct the Internet user at the website: advertising campaign, the natural referencing and the prescription of search engines, for instance.

  1. The natural referencing is a sector full-fledged related to the space of Google. Thus, the search engine optimization – SEO –, free acquisition channel, is central in the extent that it can capture a qualified audience under the rules of the algorithm of the search engine.
  2. The hegemony of Google is being challenged in the United States by search engines like Bing (with Yahoo!) which has a significant market share. One of the characteristic elements of Bing is the introduction of the social web in the research algorithms. The social web can change in an impressive way the dominance position of the Internet traffic controllers.  The paradox of this world a priori very open is the difficulty to change a standard. To acquire a monopoly, you must remove the existing model, which to reach the dominant position had to create huge barriers to entry. The social web has the ability to move the monopolies by changing the balance of power between the transmitter and receiver of the message: there is a dispersion of the public (phenomenon of “long tail”) that promotes micro content, recommended by new mechanism such as the prescription from people you trust.

To what extent the cultural offer should be structured according to new mechanism of referencing and prescription?

Social is the future of prescription on the Internet. Facebook is a social network with more and more visits each day and where users spend considerable time (55 minutes per day). The major advantages of Facebook are the instantaneous spread of message and the ability to convert the users.

Regarding culture, there is a new complexity. Of courses, it’s necessary to consider the step of discovery of social networks, but it is essential that cultural institutions integrate the quality of instantaneous propagation of content to a large audience.

All the content distributors have a conversion objective of Internet users and that requires to be well referenced. Thus, the conversion should be an intrinsic goal of all cultural and creative institutions and companies. For instance for a museum, the current objective is to diffuse content and information. It seems essential to create a community around the institution, to disseminate content but also to convert the regular customers and make them buy by-products or subscription (newsletter or not-free content).

Do the social media restore a human form of prescription?

Social web is the next big advance of digital companies in terms of prescription. “Communities”, “friends” are the prescribers of tomorrow. The social web enables to rebalance the existing referencing, dominated by search engines like Google, and, for instance, its vertical comparators. Thus, the natural partner of the culture is not the local media but global digital companies.

There has never been more access, sharing of content - images, music or entertainment. Google contributed to the liberation of knowledge. Thus, in 2008, Larry Page received the Prince Asturias award, equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the Hispanic world, for having improved access to content. However, in France, the referencing of literature should not be a monopoly because it creates a paradoxical and dangerous situation. This is one of the reasons given by the judge Chin during the Google Book Search case. This settlement would have given to Google a monopoly in terms of content referencing because its competitors would have had to ask authorization if they wanted to reference the same content. There is a natural distrust against the major actors of referencing like Facebook and Google. However, although their practices may seem, at first, shocking, they should be encouraged because they make evolve monopolies and pave the way for new experiments.

The balance of power changes very quickly between content distributors, distribution channels and content providers. Each cultural actor musts find its place quickly. The alliance between the actors of a same cultural sector can create a counterbalance against others actors, but also towards the regulatory authorities. And innovation is the key. For example, the music industry has evolved very slowly. The content providers have focused on the defensive aspect of the music by standing on the psychical object while in parallel Apple created iTunes.