The internet is rapidly turning into a mecca for all things entertaining, thanks to a widening array of distribution methods that facilitate the creation of web-based entertainment and media content. Some, such as blogs, vlogs and podcasts, came from the underground, were embraced by enterprising individuals and picked up on by global corporations as a distribution and marketing channel to new audiences. Others, such as mobisodes (content created for viewing on mobile phones) and television episodes for your iPod, take the entertainment technology breakthroughs of the past several years and inject them into a fully corporate, capital-intensive marketing and distribution plan.
Anybody who wants to stay in the internet game has to get in on the content action. The ever-prescient Google again led the pack when it bought video-sharing web site YouTube.com for USD$1.65 billion in October 2006. Some analysts say that pairing Google's resources with YouTube's popularity could usher in the future of television; a future where any show comes in several mediums for viewing anywhere, with an accompanying slew of interactive message boards and games, all available via the web.
Startup companies, which pop up all over the internet, pose a particular conundrum to the job seeker; as evidenced by YouTube's trajectory from pet project to giant global company in just a few years, the web offers great potential to cash in on a good idea. At the same time, small companies pose a risk of failure and even the best ideas can take a long time to find their market. Generally speaking, however, as the internet becomes more central to conducting business, there will be an ever-rising demand for workers to provide content for the web, along with a demand for a workforce to harness and organize the network.
The creators and the marketers
Content creation refers to the writers and web producers who create and update the information and material displayed on a web page to entice viewers into repeat site visits. That can include articles, interactive applications, and downloadable and web-streamed music and video. The business model of some content-centered web sites depends entirely on money generated by advertising revenue. Other sites, such as online magazines, offer internet users the opportunity to pay a subscription fee to avoid advertisements (either embedded or in "pop-up" form) while reading articles. Regardless of how the business makes its money, content is key to obtaining and keeping an internet audience, and those who produce that content need a background in writing, marketing or related communications fields.
Marketers work alongside both the sales force and content creators to develop original, cost-conscious and effective ways to promote a web site's content and services. Successful marketing campaigns begin and end with a single-minded focus on a return on investment (ROI), looking to come out with more sales than money spent on marketing. New media marketing has become increasingly complex, blurring the line between content and marketing, with fake blogs used to drum up hype, consumer blogs dishing news about their favourite brands, and viral advertising campaigns permeating users' inboxes. All these various channels are harnessed by the marketer to further awareness of their company and ratchet up traffic on the company site. While those looking to get involved as marketers or content creators might not need to be directly involved in creating web pages, some familiarity with HTML or Photoshop can greatly enhance a job seeker's CV.
Web design is arguably content in its own right, as its visual appeal defines the site using it. In fact, web page creation is recognized as an art form among some circles (most prominently by the Webby Awards, which have recognized web sites for their creativity, usability and functionality for 10 years now). There is a high demand for designers trained in newer technologies such as Java and Macromedia's Flash programming language, which facilitate the addition of streaming music and video to online media sites. Naturally, web designers are always learning about new technologies to keep their sites looking as of-the-moment as possible.