Warning: The Danger of Treating Online Content Like Offline


As we look around the web, we find that most digital media and content companies are treating the online experience in the exact same fashion as they have done offline.

In the evolution of tech; first we had the phone, then fax, answering machines, voicemail, then e-mail, text, messaging, social media and, now, apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat. Back in the day, we didn’t demand back and forth, interactivity responsiveness in real-time. I called you and you called me back when you got the chance or e-mailed. But now, when you text me or message me and I don’t get back to you right away – you get impatient, even upset.

The world is moving quickly and the nature of online, especially, on mobile, demands that we are responsive and interactive. Now, more than ever, we are used to instantaneous feedback – we are now all On Demand! So why are online media companies and brands not providing the ability to engage or provide feedback for their audiences and consumers? If you look at online magazines they are almost exactly like their offline counterparts, except for possibly the “comment” section, which, honestly, is at best a series of tick-for-tack fighting and bogus posts. Articles are written and all content creators are blasting their opinions and preferences at us without asking the audiences: What do you think of what we think?

Listicles are some of the most popular form of online content. You know, “The 5 Best Shoes,” or “Most Popular Places to Live,” or “Best Films of the Year,” to name a few. Yet, no one is bothering to find out what an audience thinks about our opinions. In this day-and-age where we are crowdsourcing everything from design to investments – why are we not crowdsourcing opinions?

Publishers and brands are struggling for ways to reach audiences and at some juncture make money on their content. Subscriptions and newsstand sales are becoming a thing of the past. But if we allowed for audiences and consumers to participate in the online experience and weigh in, brands would have to care! They would want opinions of these targeted audiences for insights they could act on. Not only that, but they’d want to know which popular choices would convert the most, which ones could advertise heavier and with more premium prices, knowing there is an engaged audience participating on the page (clicking if you will). And, all these factors lead to benefits, not just for the publisher and advertiser, but for the READER and CONSUMER.

If an expert wrote an article about, “The Best Headphones for Exercising,” I am no closer to buying one then I was before the article was written. Now, I just know more about them. If I crowdsourced the same question, I would get 20 uninformed opinions about an array of different headphones. But, if I asked the audience to vote on which of the four expert recommended headphones they felt were the best, I would most certainly buy the winner.

Between the curator and the audience, we can expect the best product. This would drive greater distribution for the content creator as brands and audiences would be inclined to share; greater revenues for that site, as brands would not only advertise heavier on those pages, but also could sponsor the questions’ themselves (i.e. “Best Basketball Sneakers” – voting sponsored by Foot Locker); and the brand gets a highly targeted, interactive and “ready” audience.

We must move all of our online content to this type of experience to truly start to start utilizing mobile and online effectively – not just put magazine and newspaper articles and ads on the web.


  1. Our readers love the cars they buy and we all know that love is blind…we don’t see any real benefit for our readers in reading the personal opinion of someone already in a deeply committed relationship with their car or truck, (unless big time negative, which today is rare). Although we do provide comment space on every review page the number of responses is pitifully small…If a car review is in agreement with the buyers preconceived beliefs they pay attention to it but if it points out warts it is disregarded…buyer rationalization is at the center of all love purchases


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