When you're on the internet watching videos, perusing pictures, listening to music, or reading blogs, do you ever stop to wonder exactly how that content made it from the original creator to your computer screen? After all, content doesn't just magically appear, right?
Content delivery describes the process of delivering media over a medium such as the internet or broadcast channels. Content delivery also consists what form the content takes. Today, the best mode of delivery often depends on what kind of audience will be consuming the content.
How to Choose a Content Delivery Method
The first step to determining how you should deliver content is to understand who your audience is, and then how that audience will want to consume your content. While having fresh, engaging content is important, presenting that content in an accessible, satisfying way is equally important. If your audience tends to rely on email to communicate with your brand, maybe it is best to use an RSS feed to relay important customer information or promotions. Perhaps a company may want to experiment with video, but instead of asking consumers to download the video, maybe it is best to stream it. With mobile devices continuing to gain popularity, it might be time to look into creating and distributing an app. An audience that frequently uses tablets and e-readers to consume content may be more receptive to an email blast than a video.
The next step in achieving content delivery success is understanding where your targeted consumer audience spends its time online. For example, according to YouTube, 800 million people visit the site per month. Therefore, if you want to distribute a video, putting that video on YouTube might be a good place to start. Knowing who you want to reach and how they want to be reached is half the content delivery battle.
The Technical Side of Content Delivery: CDN
If your business is planning on providing content to a large group of internet users, consider employing the services of a Content Delivery Network (CDN), such as Akamai Technologies, EdgeCast, or Amazon CloudFront. PC Magazine describes a CDN as "distribution system on the Internet that accelerates the delivery of webpages, audio, video and other Internet-based content to users around the world." To get more specific, according to Webopedia, a CDN "copies the pages of a website to a network of servers that are dispersed at geographically different locations, caching the contents of the page. When a user requests a webpage that is part of a CDN, the CDN will redirect the request from the originating site's server to a server in the CDN that is closest to the user and deliver the cached content. The CDN will also communicate with the originating server to deliver any content that has not been previously cached."
Don't Limit Your Content's Reach
Don't throw all of your content delivery eggs in one basket. A 2011 industry report from Davencroft, a company that provides market research and strategic analysis for digital media, found that multi-platform content delivery has become a dominant trend in 2011. This means that choosing just one form of content delivery doesn't cut it anymore. Just look at the different options consumers now have to watch a TV show. They can watch it at the time it airs, record it on their DVR, subscribe to a site like Hulu and watch it from multiple devices, or stream it from a network website. With all the different ways consumers can obtain content, why limit how you provide it?