Does P&G need another community portal or a platform?

Procter & Gamble has launched a portal for pet lovers – petside.com. According to NY Times:

…Web portal that looks something like a Yahoo or AOL for pet owners, with a bit of Facebook and MySpace thrown in.The site, Petside.com, offers a full menu of information about dogs and cats, from the serious (how to diagnose your pet’s illnesses) to the silly (funny animal videos). There are links to shopping sites (like Petco.com) and articles about topics like what to do if visitors are allergic to your pet (hint: vacuum). Visitors are encouraged to set up social networking profiles in order to meet other pet owners.

While it’s a great idea, it raises some questions in my mind. Frankly, I don’t have all the answers but it can set a context for a discussion, I think:

  1. Can such portals aggregate "interested" customers and create sustained interest ?  Am not sure. There is a lot of content on the web for pet owners. I think marketers need to add context around the content rather than just content. I personally don’t think there is a need for one more portal and consumers are not waiting for one, I presume.
  2. Is it still old world thinking? The TV era was about creating content and it helped aggregate audience. During the later years,there was proliferation of channels but it was still limited. The internet has opened-up a flurry of ‘content creators’ with micro audiences. So, it may just  be impossible to lead with content alone. The clutter in  new media is  lot more higher than traditional media. If TV soaps had a 13 or a 26 week interest, such content might have 13 days or 26 days interest?!! How do marketers keep the momentum going?
  3. How can P&G create a platform? Thinking laterally, Google creates APIs that can be plugged-in with other sites and hence it is a sort of glue where ever users go on the web. It’s in the context of the user rather than the marketer. So, do marketers like P&G have to create CPIs, where  C stands for customers. If I was a pet owner, P&G builds a set of CPIs that can help pet owners get content the way they want.It pulls content from different creators. It’s an equivalent of a  "TV remote" in the offline world. If I don’t like the content, I switch it off and move to another. P&G’s site needs have a lot such CPIs which consumers can use. It may be mobile reminders, email alerts, or a plug-in into my igoogle  which is an independent channel for pet owners, beauty, grooming etc. P&G has to create an open marketing platform for content developers to use its CPIs.

What do you think? To me this makes a lot of sense and seems far more relevant than creating one portal after another.

          

1 Comment

  1. While it is true that “there is a lot of content on the web for pet owners,” is there a category killer in the pets space? Is there an eBay (auctions), Amazon (books/shopping), or ESPN (sports) that immediately comes to mind when you think of pets? It seems to me that P&G is looking to create that destination and dominate the pets space with Petside, which could certainly aggregate an audience worth monetizing.

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