Aggregate: verb (without object), 1. To combine and form a collection or mass
Aggregation of services has become a significant business. Hotels.com is an aggregator. Another prevalent aggregator is the aggregation of marketing services via geographic or demographic based community sites. These communities generally have three elements: the aggregator, the reader, and the contributor. Let's look briefly at the business model.
A news aggregator builds a website and staff begin finding paying contributors. Contributors provide content to be placed on the website or the aggregator assists with content production. The platform attracts an audience.
The aggregator must demonstrate the audience is engaged. Analytics such as visits, or hits, can be collected. But you need to know what the visitor did. How else do you know it is working? Consider the following:
- Did my story even get read?
- What is the website's bounce rate?
- Are these organic visits, social media, search engine results, or another source?
- Does a heat map indicate my placement on the page is fair relative to other contributors?
- Am I receiving what I was promised?
As audience grows so does the aggregator via alternative revenue streams and audience engagement efforts. Selling ad space is a common occurrence. Resources perceived as valuable such as Sudoku puzzles and weather reports are added to gain and maintain the audience. These gimmicks and distractions work against contributors. Readers' ability to digest information did not increase with the information load. Your paid content is drowned out in this noisy room and the contributor begins experiencing diminishing returns.
That's bad. Guess what is worse? Aggregation defies human nature.
Malcolm Gladwell's “The Tipping Point,” an outstanding book detailing the spread of social epidemics, reminds us of anthropologist Robin Dunbar's cognitive limit theory. Essentially, Dunbar suggests due to the human brain's size we are only capable of having stable relationships with 150 people. Gladwell details this in the real world using G.L. Gore and Associates and the Hutterites, a branch of the Anabaptists. G.L. Associates, a company with over 10,000 employees, demonstrates how adhering to Dunbar's Number has made them the leader in their field. The Hutterites split communities as it approaches 150 people. North American population has grown from 400 to 45,000 over the last 130 years.
Don't agree? How many Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections do you have? How many of them do you really know? With how many do you meaningfully engage? Are your car repairs done with the same company or a different one each time? Think about clothes, how many different retailers do you use? Do any get most your purchases? Is there a park or two you usually go to? Usually the same movie theater, too, right?
JM2 does not like aggregators. The aggregator is an interesting model for transmission of a message. However, the audience properly receiving the message and the probability of the audience engaging and acting on the message is low. Marketing communications should be crafted and delivered with surgical precision.
I look forward to speaking with you more about this. I will call soon. I can only hope this message was received. People say no one reads letters. I think they do if they are interesting. If you made it this far, we are doing something right, now aren't we?
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