It’s interesting to see an implementation of content networks the way I first envisioned them in May 2006. I recently heard from Federated Media‘s James Gross about American Express’s OPEN Forum. Basically, it’s a project where AMEX through Federated has a blog area that aggregates interesting business content, with the mindset of gathering a conversation in a sponsored area. Mentioned as a place to find insight from business experts, it’s essentially a way for AMEX to spread its brand across some select blog content (with the bloggers’ permission).
I asked James what the plan was:
The primary goal was for OPEN to start identifying, curating, and participating in a media landscape that was constantly changing. They had done a lot of work with other publishers, but it was always on the publishers domain and like most microsites, tended to be lightly trafficked and not converting people to the OPEN forum. Not to mention, with what we call, “the de coupling of media” surveys were finding that most SMBs were using blogs and other forms of social media far more than major publishing brand’s SMB sites.
It’s interesting to me, because it’s the other way around from how we perceive our blogs. I think it’s definitely a way to build a content network that would be more useful to end readers. It’s not that we don’t want more traffic to our blog, but that there are ways this content can be made more useful to end readers, by being curated by others in interesting ways. That’s why we use Creative Commons. That’s why we use RSS. It’s the plan.
Our goal was to bring together leading experts in an engaging experience at the OPEN platform itself. Thus, any of the authors work that was picked up on other blogs, social media engines like Digg, StumbleUpon, etc., would all give credit back to OPEN as being the keeper/facilitator of the conversation. In the new world of media, these trackbacks and links provide a new form of Brand Equity for OPEN. This again drives home the point behind the OPEN brand that they are here for Small Businesses to make their life better and grow their business.
I think this is a project to watch, among others, and I think it’s worth thinking about how your media might work against a certain brand. What’s your take?
Check it out here.