How the Internet Should Have Worked to Begin with

By  (contrib. Web Heretics)
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Content marketing is the only marketing left, but it's the domain of the grotesquely large. Is there a technology solution that will enable millions of small businesses to get into the game? Maybe.

A few months back, I ran a pitch deck for an old friend and then gave him a demo of Mojified. At the time, the concept of content-market inefficiencywas a key tenant of the Mojified story—that just as inefficient securities markets (low correlation of price and value) result from incomplete information, so also does the wildly inefficient content market result, in part, from information deficiency.

So large entities that have the resources to curate from independent contractors pay relatively little for their work product—perhaps pennies on the dollar of its real value. Then these large players expose the content to a tiny fraction of the people that might actually find it useful.

The existing model is bad for creators and bad for consumers. Only large enterprises—the ones with the budgets to fund inefficient curation programs—truly benefit from it.

A Technology Problem

Because we’re IT folk, we saw the problem as technological. There was no open marketplace for content that would enable creators to realize true value for their work product based on user feedback (information); Likewise, there was no vehicle for tens of millions of small businesses to get into the content-marketing game.

Mojified was designed to solve both of these problems—a multi-tenant marketing stack built on a content-syndication platform.  By enabling small players to spin up their own marketing stack fast and inexpensively, we theorized, we’d make a massive market for content that would enable millions of independent creators to get paid for doing what they love.

(For a explanation of how Mojified works, download our free ebook, Rise of the Content Creators.)

My friend—a career software engineer who’d made his way to the C-Suite—shocked me with his response: “You’ve invented the way the Internet should have worked to begin with,” he said, almost nonchalantly. Now that was a heady idea that hadn’t yet crossed my mind.

The Google Starter Pistol

To understand my friend’s point, you first have to understand the role that Google played in establishing the existing content market.

Google, it turns out, almost single handedly engendered the content-marketing industry with its page-rank algorithm, establishing the need for enterprises to create and publish content regularly. In the early days, almost any content would do, so long as it adhered to Google’s clumsy rules for page rank. Today, Google is much better at winnowing the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Although, search results are still largely based on a popularity contest, rather than content quality or relevance. (See The Plight of the Yelpified and the Sad Demise of Market Inefficiency.) This reality led to the development of built-in blog platforms. Blog posts, in contrast to web pages, were easy to create and required no technical skill. Just the ticket for entities that needed to pump out content at scale.

The resulting tsunami of content cemented Google’s strangle hold on the business web: It was no longer just “publish or perish” but, rather, “publish and rank or perish.” The effect of this model for small businesses was devastating. Regardless of what you were selling—from cupcakes to carburetors—you had to morph into a media outlet in order to do it.

Big companies began building—or buying—existing media outlets. Faced with an absurd requirement, small businesses by the millions gave up on search engines, altogether, and turned to social media platforms, where they could push out commercial messaging for free. Those days, of course, are gone. And tens of millions of small businesses have been disenfranchised by what has evolved into a massively commercial web that’s caustic to all but the grotesquely large. (See Rebirthing the Democratic Web.)

Aligning Businesses and Bloggers

The friend I mentioned above is smarter than me and, perhaps, more of a visionary. So I’m not sure it ever would have occurred to me that we had re-envisioned the Internet, let alone invented a technology vehicle to transform it. Frankly, for that to happen, we’d need to split the atom and then harness the chain reaction, so to speak, and I’m not sure that’s something you can plan. It either happens or not.

Just the same, Mojified does align the interests of businesses and bloggers, enabling both of them to get what they want at a fair price, the right price, a price that enables virtually any business to play and any competent blogger to earn a healthy living. Will it democratize content marketing? We think so. Will it affect search? Maybe. Will it change the way social platforms handle content that lives offsite? Perhaps.  If that’s the path to a re-invented web, then maybe we’re on to something.

Still, the challenges ahead are huge. We’re a dinghy on the high seas, and the things that could swamp us—both seen and unseen—are too numerous to count.

Web Heretics is the official media outlet of Mojified, a business platform for creating media outlets.