For years the content and data worlds co-existed in relative isolation from each other. Content was the province of authors, reviewers, editors, people who were responsible for communications in written form. The data analysts, architects and developers operated in their own little esoteric world, and rarely came in contact with the content folks. The sudden rise of the internet triggered a fundamental shift in the content model, which has accelerated with the expansion of integrated rich media applications driven by meta-data management. Because of the increasing prevalence of application frameworks such as XML, the content world is finally catching up to the data world in terms of creation, distribution, and manipulation of their operational models.
Data-centric models have always had a huge advantage over content-centric models because of the level of granularity and manipulation they afforded end users. Now that content can be reduced into snippets that still maintain context and relevancy, these content elements can be stored in an object database and manipulated by ontology-driven tools. It appears the content world has finally caught up to the data world in terms of developing a fine-tuned grasp of it’s underlying information.
The implications of this are significant; for decades the advertising and marketing industries have been limited to a one-size-fits-all consumer outreach model, even now the best alternative offered by behavioral targeting firms is a cluster than numbers in the thousands and still only manages a response rate of less than 2%. Content needs to be architected, just like data; this has nothing to do with the narrative or creative process, it has to do with how information will be managed so that it can be reused, repurposed, and targeted to a much finer level of execution. When the content folks finally figure out what the data folks have know for years, you’ll start to see response rates on marketing initiatives climb steeply, because the customer experience has become much more relevant, or as I prefer to say, we can now target a cluster of one.