The home page is facing extinction as content becomes promiscuous.
That might sound like an eccentric, even crazy assertion. But consider this. NowThisNews, the media start-up backed by erstwhile Huff Post and BuzzFeed funder Ken Lerer, is dispensing with the need for a website altogether and dropping updated news content onto a raft of different apps and services instead – Snapchat, Vine and Instagram amongst them.
It’s experimenting with what could well be the next big thing for digital content creators, and it’s not alone. The underlying belief is this: in an age of widely scattered mobile screens and on-the-hoof content consumption, whether that’s a video production or written custom news feed, content needs to be where the people who’ll consume it actually are. Plonking it on a home page and hoping that visitors will show up is a tradition that’s getting a little threadbare.
Rising digital content makers like BuzzFeed, clearly agree. Having just closed a walloping $50 million Andreessen Horowitz-led funding round, the media start-up announced it was launching a new unit called ‘BF Distributed’. And here’s the rub; the new venture’s team of 20 will be dedicated to creating content that will live on other services and apps, not on the main BuzzFeed website.
This is what ‘promiscuous media’ means, a term coined by ex-Reuters blogger Felix Salmon after his move to the ABC/Univision TV network ‘Fusion’. It was the desire to make content for a slew of different platforms that attracted him to the company. He puts it like this: “If our audience is on Instagram, we’ll make 15-second videos for them on Instagram. If they’re on Upworthy or BuzzFeed or Vox or even Snapchat, we’ll try to find a way to reach them there, too. It’s what I call promiscuous media: put everything where it works best…”
Business Insider journalist Alyson Shontell speculates that the BuzzFeed strategy could be opening the doors to an era in which content companies no longer need websites at all.
There are risks attached to the strategy, of course, not the least of which is becoming slaves to the latest fancies and caprices of the platform or app your content is published on. But content without an audience is a loser. A new day may be dawning.