Sunday, March 14, 2010

AP is Visionary: They See a "Siteless Web"

AP is Visionary: They See a "Siteless Web"

TechCrunch reports that the Associated Press is using their Twitter account to push their followers to their Facebook page. On that hub they syndicate many stories blog posts and dispatches as full text. Unlike Danny Sullivan (here and here), I think this is a downright brilliant and visionary move. What's more it's a natural for a wire service like AP. Here's why.

AP sees that the future of media is headless, which I wrote about here six months ago. Paul Gillin echos my thoughts and calls this the siteless web.

Wire services like AP and Reuters have in one sense flourished since the dawn of the consumer Internet. You can't visit a news site without running into one of their stories. Often, some of the featured and more popular stories on Yahoo News (an underrated news giant) are from wire services. However, there's an inherent problem today with that model and this approach tries to solve it.

As wires like AP and Reuters syndicate their content everywhere, they have struggled to build any kind of meaningful relationship with readers. In some ways they've become so ubiquitous they're commodity. Others, like the New York Times, have done a much better job by offering benefits to registered members - but also with a lot more investment and infrastructure. 

The AP is now changing the game for news by not only going where attention spirals are taking us but by also using their content to curate a conversation on Facebook and - above all - build relationships.

As of this writing, the AP page on Facebook has 9,400 fans. I bet this will grow over time as people spend more time on Facebook and slowly become more accustomed to getting their news there, in addition to friend updates, games,etc. Swap out the word fans and replace it with subscribers and suddenly you can see where I am going and why this is a smart idea. It's CRM for news!

Over the weekend Robert French from Auburn and I have been debating on Google Buzz the value of Facebook as a news source. It does have a ways to go but it's coming. Six years ago, as an experiment, I lived off blogs as my sole news source. I might try that again with Facebook. I continue to be impressed with how media companies are starting to experiment and the utter richness of the conversation that occurs in a very navigable, digestible format.

LATER:: In response to this post, Viki asks on Buzz if I see a similar future for Google Buzz. In a word, yes. With content infinite and attention finite, the media will go where people are. This includes Twitter, Buzz and YouTube. The media is already all over Buzz - case in point, the Huffington Post. However Facebook is the 800 pound gorilla - for now.

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