If the product is free, you’re the product

One of the more interesting elements in the ongoing debate over free content is the generational element… i.e. the increasingly large group of young people who have never interacted with another business model.

Music and other content have always been free…

Why would kids start paying for music, content or entry-level apps when they’ve never had to?

This conundrum has stymied many legacy-content providers… including news sources, music labels and software providers.

Some providers have made content free in exchange for massive amounts of personal data (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). We use these products freely (with “no charge”) but we miss the larger point that “we ARE the product.” I.e. Our posts are the fuel that runs those engines.

The concept is pretty simple, our data is more valuable than our cash.

This is all why I like the idea of Google’s “surveywall.”

Consumers gain “free” access to content via, once again, becoming the product.

Let’s say you want to read a piece on WSJ but you don’t have a subscription. Your cookie tips off WSJ and essentially says “this person isn’t a subscriber.” On-the-fly you’ll be offered access to the article if you take a one-question micro-survey like the one to the left.

Simple, scalable, personal and valuable to all connected parties. More.


3 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Stephen Fawcett,

    Thanks Mr. M. U r on the $.

  2. Cory Gasaway,

    You ever read Wikinomics? Good stuff, Jim.

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