anewdomain.net — The world’s first website, from CERN, turned 20 years old last month. Since that site came out on April 30, 1993, 641 million new websites emerged from the web’s belly. In 2012 alone, 51 million sites launched, bringing the grand total to a whopping 50 billion web pages — that’s about seven pages for every person on the planet. This story is about the waning of big corporate and media sites — and how a prescient concept called Media as a Service (MaaS) stands to change everything all over again.
Corporate websites have long since passed their primes in terms of web traffic. They will likely never recover. Webtrends reported that the Top 100 US companies have already seen a 24 percent reduction in traffic. Coca-Cola witnessed a 40 percent decline in web traffic. Imagine what that will mean for businesses in three to five years. It’s a trend worth some serious examination.
The reason for dwindling corporate website traffic is the rise of real time social media. The answer is Media as a Service (MaaS), a concept first explained to me by a prescient former media exec, Joe Ward.
I agree with Joe that, these days, people aren’t interested in what corporate marketing and communications messages corporations are trying to brainwash them with. People are flying solo. Thinking for themselves. And they’re seeing their content through the hard core lens of real life — and in real time. Old fashioned sites won’t cut it.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Get Satisfaction inform consumer decisions because they allow people to interact and share their experiences. Your .com site is just another drowned dinosaur in this radical and rapidly changing landscape.
Making money from websites is also more difficult now than ever before. It takes, roughly, a million hits to make a thousand bucks. Here at aNewDomain.net, we know all too well how hard it is to fund quality journalism at these rates. You need dedicated teams — editors and writers dedicated to the dream of true journalism — and social power to drive hits. The old ad rev model is a tough one for your typical scrappy startup.
For eCommerce companies, the impact is equally massive. Amazon once reported that for every 100 milliseconds added to its page load time, sales went down by 1 percent. So for an eCommerce web site, a 24-40 percent reduction in traffic is a disaster. And that’s just this year alone. What if the situation gets worse?
Joe Ward — the CEO of xTV who collaborates with us here at aNewDomain — has disruptive ideas about how companies ought to mitigate the damage and drive traffic.
As he described it to me, his vision is to help companies regain control of branding and messaging through a kind of media as a service platform. His is called xTV. It enables any company to create its own real time cloud TV network.
MaaS has great promise. xTV, for example, gives a company a way to combine its own social feeds along with related industry content. That would include news and video, all of which is publishable in a range of TV designs on your own personal channel. And once it’s live, your channel continues to run and source content without manual intervention of any kind. It’s kind of like a news service — or a corporate news service, depending on you are — for the masses.
If you don’t have enough content to get started, a powerful MaaS services like the one Ward is offering with xTV will let publishers find videos in huge video marketplaces. Publishers just add continuously rolling and relevant content as the brand and target audience demand.
The effort as pitched by xTV is a model for the future, no question. Its service is cloud-based and hosted on xTVGUIDE.com. Individual channel owners — that means businesses, universities and non-profits — are able to create a real-time cloud TV channel. Or they’re able to build a whole network of channels — a lá the old-fashioned TV network metaphor that dominated media for so long.
Think about it. A giant company such as Microsoft or Apple doesn’t easily combine its enormous array of social, news, video and stock data into a single platform. But with an xTV-like MaaS service like one Ward has built, it’s possible to present and maintain an entire channel with its own TV guide. And it’s easy to distribute the content to the over a billion HTML5-enabled mobile devices out there today.
“This gets really exciting when you pair the smartphones with any HTML5-enabled device using a QR code,” Ward told me, answering my question before I asked it. “This boookmarks the screen — or adds it to the smartphone’s homescreen, whatever. Then the xTV remote control lets users control the target screen via cloud.”
And guess what? No Bluetooth or Wi-Fi required. It all takes place over an HTML5-native media network, rather than a device or app-specific one. So what’s he is talking about is, quite literally, a cloud-driven, remote control hand held device. Ward’s view and his innovation of xTV — its foretelling of media as a service — is a prescient one.
For all the struggling corporate sites out there, MaaS solutions like the one Joe Ward has built will have a huge impact. If they implement them correctly.
We covered Joe’s company a while back on the topic of quality journalism. It makes sense that xTV decided to start with media as a service — as opposed to becoming just another consumer media outlet. There are plenty of those and most of them are cut rate. But the network effect of cross-pollination between channels could allow them to grow exponentially.
If real time cloud TV is the answer, aNewDomain just might launch our own xTV channel. So long, big media.
Image credit of old newspapers above: Wikimedia Commons
With aNewDomain.net commentary, I’m Gina Smith.
Gina Smith is founding edit director at aNewDomain.net, co-founded with John C. Dvorak and Dr. Jerry Pournelle. She is a New York Times bestselling author — she cowrote Steve Wozniak’s memoir, iWOZ, and penned the award-winning The Genomics Age. Previously the first on-air correspondent to cover tech for a national network — it was ABC News — she is a veteran tech journalist in print, online, broadcast and speaking venues.