So many people make excuses for the word "content." How many times have I sat through a panel or read an article where someone either gives a disclaimer or throws up the two finger "i am quoting and unquoting for no good reason" gesture. They make excuses because they didn't take the time to understand what they really meant to say. It's like they admit they are just saying it because everyone else does. If they had thought about it they wouldn't have used it in the first place.

Most of the time what they are referring to when they say content is really "the product." Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, etc create great products not just great content (some of you can question that but I don't bite the hand that feeds me :) ). To call a car a "great steering wheel" does about as much disservice to the car as if you call a feature film "some great content."

The content is the thing inside. Its a component piece of the whole that may or may not be sold individually or repurposed. The product is the experience, the presentation, the composition. Businesses make money from the product not the content (I can hear the flames rising). Most customers develop loyalty to the product not the content. Almost all of the value add is in the product not the content.

Here's a good for instance. If I happen to be in front of the TV during the nightly news hour (6-7 PM) I will almost always choose to watch ABC news over the other networks. Is it because they have better news? Pretty much that's never the case. Every night each of the networks present on almost identical topics, even down to the same pharmaceutical commercials every five minutes. 

Why do I watch ABC News? I prefer the look and feel. I like how they present the content, the tone in which it is delivered, the manner in which it is displayed. I like the way they take essentially the same content as the other networks and make it unique. It has a quality and complexion in it's message that I relate to most. I think ABC has the best news product on TV. It's almost incidental that it also happens to be some of the best content.

I've made a pact with myself that from here on out I'm going to be syntactically correct and refer to what the industry produces as "products" and not content. Only when I'm speaking about the subject matter and basic material will I use the word content. It just seems like the right thing to do.

 

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