Zipidee: A prosumer digital goods marketplace
If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you know I’m a bit of a fanboy for user generated content. No question that there is significant untapped potential in those of us who have knowledge and experience that we could pass on to others and yet there aren’t many effective ways of monetizing our Long Tail knowledge.
A digital marketplace for sellers (i.e., content producers) and buyers to come together — with protection for the content so it can’t be given to non-paying others for free — seems like a good idea but Zipidee’s beta launch isn’t showing that idea in its best light.
Their press release today details their value proposition:
Zipidee today announced the public beta release of the premier Prosumer Generated Content (PGC) marketplace for digital goods. Zipidee is an open marketplace that empowers PGC digi-good owners, from aspiring media moguls to large media companies, to generate revenue from their existing digital assets. Zipidee provides the storefront and tools for content owners, distributors, and networks to publish, protect, promote, and profit by selling their original digital content. Zipidee provides digi-good buyers immediate access to an extensive library of content without shipping fees or wait time. The platform currently supports videos, audiobooks, podcasts, and music, with eBooks, games, and ringtones coming in the near future.
The problem? The content available in this launch is incredibly bad. From poor editing to tragically amateurish talent, I found absolutely nothing that I’d pay money for (prices ranged from $1.99 to $7.99 with owning the download at ~$9.99) and, in fact, as I watched about 25 videos I thought they should pay ME for watching these!
Zipidee must’ve swung a deal with a firm called Education 2000 since about 90% of the videos seem to have come from that firm’s inventory. Almost all of the ones I watched seemed to be of the type that an infomercial might be hawking at 2am showcasing “the educational hits from the 70’s” or something cheesy like that.
What could’ve or should’ve been done and why am I so uncertain Zipidee will have any success?
In the 1980’s when I was at Pioneer New Media and we had the Laserdisc technology (12″ optical discs for video), we wanted to break in to the educational space and swung a deal with Encyclopedia Brittanica for their videos. We pressed their top 100 educational videos and were instantly in the education business and it took off from there. Why? These were quality materials and every educator instantly understood how previous videotape materials were suddenly highly interactive in this new format.
So “table stakes” to get in to the content game is quality content and Zipidee should’ve sought out a higher quality provider to launch with pre-populated categories. Like anything else in commerce, a (very rough) 10% of any marketplace is a leading, quality deliverable and I expect that most stuff will be cheesy or crap and I’m willing to search out the gems. The kicker? Even in delivering Long Tail content, stuff people will pay for has to be quite good or you’d better just give it away for free and hope you can drum up business in some other way.
I’ve always been of a mindset that if you can sell me something for $10 that will save me $20 or make me $50 I’ll buy it. If it reduces my or my company cycle time, I’ll buy it. If it adds value to me, my team, my company or what I do, I’ll buy it. But it must be quality that doesn’t appear to be cheesy or something I’ll have to sit through to get even one nugget from after paying for it. The return on investment must be there.
When you can pay $9.99 for a one year old Hollywood blockbuster that gives you two hours of entertainment, why would you pay even $1.99 for a lecture on making your dreams come true or $5.99 for how to arrange flowers? The answer is not-a-snowballs-chance-in-Hades, that’s what.
Now let’s compare Zipidee with a popular site which provides a lot of value, HowStuffWorks. They now have a featured area of videos they aggregate that are all free. The entire site is free because it is, of course, advertiser driven. The content is very high quality and is well done and I often go there with my son when he asks about how something works. We’ll go together since I usually can’t explain in the detail he demands and he’s a helluva lot smarter than I am and I can still dazzle him with how I can find just about anything on the ‘net! (That’s not gonna last long though).
Think about the respective models of Zipidee and then HowStuffWorks while considering the enormity of the other million blogs out there besides mine; the scale of user generated video and free video sites; newspapers (like the New York Times) moving away from a subscription model to free; TV networks (like NBC) making their shows available…for free; 25,000 video and audio podcasts on iTunes…for free, and on and on.
In addition to all this overwhelmingly qualitative and free content, we’ve barely scratched the surface on what will be delivered as more and more of us publish online. As you’re certainly aware, the barriers to entry of personal and company publishing is laughingly low. As I point out in my report, Rise of the Participation Culture, the tools (cameras, audio gear, PC’s, Web 2.0 offerings like OneTrueMedia) are allowing anyone with any knowledge to create and deliver high value content.
I’ll say that again: Allowing anyone with any knowledge to create and deliver high value content. How do you compete with that? If you’re going to try and you’re going to charge money for it, your content had better be more than your talking head or a bad videotape of your standup lecture and then uploaded to Zipidee with a $7.99 price slapped on to it.
Believe you me, I really, really, really want to see a way to monetize knowledge and have incentives for individual, small or medium sized businesses to deliver ever higher value content.
Zipidee isn’t it and I can’t visualize how it will be either.
About Steve Borsch
SiteGround is 'The One'
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.