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'Distributed content': "Everyone is trying their best to reach you".

In the Magazine Media Café at the Amsterdam debate centre De Balie, journalists, publishers and freelancers discussed the phenomenon of distributed content. What is it and what can you do with it?

Distributed content: a new online phenomenon

Distributed content is basically reverse publishing. You offer content (stories, photos, video) where the reader is, rather than luring the reader to your platform. Distributed content is thus publishing your news in places other than your website. An article can no longer only be read on your own site, but also on, for example Blendle, Medium or at Facebook Instant Articles.

We at the Cultural Press Bureau also started using it a while ago. Because it has advantages. With decentralised content publishing, you reach a new audience, the article loads faster through technology (via, for example Google AMP which simplifies the page code), readers are less likely to drop out and there is direct money to be made per article. But there are also drawbacks.

The ad model is broken

If you have a website that has to make a living out of ads, then you are floating with distributed content your audience actually away from your ad site. That, of course, is not convenient. That is why this new way of offering news turns the world of publishing and advertising on its head. Besides, you also build less of a bond with your audience and you may even lose subscribers because of it.

Six speakers therefore explain how they see the digital future for publishers and advertisers. Some speakers stand in creative dungarees, others in tailored suits. Because this is an industry where creativity must deliver content of value and companies are keen to see online efforts convert into resounding currency.

And we should be especially wary of the great American tech-boys: they are going to dominate the market even further.

A few highlights from the café. With Twitter accounts of the speakers below.

'Facebook rules' (Carolien Vader, The Leaf Doctor)

Of the 3 million apps globally, we have an average of 36, use only 8 and sit on just 3 most of the time apps one of which is always Facebook. BAM! And the big boys know that too. So Facebook and Google go full on the distributed content-organ. Because we are going more and more on especially 1 app sit within which all kinds of content passes. With the ever smarter (and artificially intelligent) algorithms as lifelines.

@Blade Doctor

'Home no longer counts' (Lara Ankersmit, head of digital at NOS)

A leaked investigation by the New York Times shows that the number of pageviews on the homepage plunged from 160 million to 60 million. Yet the total number of pageviews equal. The lesson: 'nobody' goes to a home page by themselves yet. You find through your social media feed automatically interesting content. NOS further responds to a changing media need with the YouTube channel Mashup (for high school students), Snaplines on Snapchat and the in-depth NOS The Series on the US elections.

@laram

'The reader at the controls' (Xavier van Leeuwe, NRC Media)

Every author is increasingly a salesman. He has to think about who he writes for, where his story ends up, and he knows that you can measure (read: be judged by) how often your article is read, shared and liked becomes. Van Leeuwe likes the fact that readers are at the controls and can decide what content they take in.

@XvanL

'Sharing people with people' (Gonnie Spijkstra, ex-Telegraph)

Mass reach is out according to Gonnie. Well, the Telegraph got millions pageviews but so what? Isn't it better to stand out with unique content than to produce something that everyone else is already doing. Get rid of logo broadcasting. Because another Sabia and Rafael for eternal reach? From distribution so to destination. Do what fits well with your mission, build it out with a video or a influencer when comments on Facebook ask for more information. Because 'people share with people'. It's almost social impact seeking.

@gonniespijkstra

'The niche has the future' (Pieter Elshout, director/publisher De Groene Amsterdammer)

Pieter was employed by Financial Dagblad and therefore stands neatly in a suit. Because de Groene is not a woolly magazine. With a turnover of 4 million and a highly educated audience living in expensive regions, the weekly targets a niche. That also has the future. Because they have to fend for themselves, unlike NOS 'which can try out all kinds of technical feats with taxpayers' money'. That's why the Green is on Blendle. Because single item sales in the physical newsstand are falling, but sales via Blendle's online newsstand are rising. Still, according to Elshout, offering single articles hardly delivers: you distinguish yourself mainly by offering specific content as part of your identity, a total package. So stop using Blendle.

@pcelshout

'Old paper works' (Guido Sanders, VMBpress)

The venue runs half-empty as print coming up. Guido is from a sister company of Abonnementenland and mirrors fine figures. Loose sales of print magazines remain interesting for advertisers, even though of the 1,200 titles that used to be on shelves, some 400-500 are left. Yet the rest still exist. That is why VMBpress (a company that sells paper magazines online) came up with an online display on which in-store customers can order an old issue or title that is not in store. Another new way to offer your content.

Guido on LinkedIn

Free new audience

In this intensive session of Magazine Media Café, a platform of the Dutch Publishers Association, the Dutch Association of Journalists and the Freelancers Association, so there was plenty to learn about new media and new ways to reach audiences.

Hopefully you are now a little wiser about distributed content. So as a publisher you can reach new audiences for free, as an advertiser you have to think smarter about how to hit your audience and as a journalist you can earn some extra income. The reader? He has the world at his fingertips, or his voice (via the increasing voice control).

And everyone is doing their best to reach you.

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Ruben Brugman

writing ex-dancerView Author posts

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