These days, you can’t go one mouse click without stumbling on digital content. Also known as digital media, digital content comes in many forms, from text and audio and videos files, to graphics, animations, and images. Typically, digital content refers to information available for download or distribution on electronic media such as an ebook or iTunes song, but many in the content industry argue that digital content is anything that can be published. Following this line of thinking, it is safe to say that if you are on the internet, most likely you are looking at, watching, or listening to a piece of digital content.

Who Creates Digital Content?

Everyone! If social media has taught us anything, it is that we are all content publishers. On his website, marketing and communications consultant, Adam Vincenzini, includes tweets, Facebook status updates, photos, videos, blog posts, audio files, games, and ebooks on his list of 50 examples of digital content.  If digital content is considered any piece of information that is published, that means with every tweet you share, every video you upload to Facebook, and every time you update your blog, you are taking on the role of a digital content creator.

Free vs. Paid Digital Content

Perhaps one of the biggest hot button topics surrounding digital content is the free vs. paid content debate. Should consumers pay for their digital content or should it be given to them for free? If it is provided for free, can a business still make money from their content? This debate is especially pertinent in the entertainment and media industry, which has come under fire in recent years regarding how digital content such as movies and music is handled online. Many argue that the entertainment industry has been slow to develop viable business models for the internet. We all remember the fall-out from Napster. Good-bye free songs and hello iTunes. But even with laws being put in place to protect original content, file sharing sites are still prominent, and many content creators are still losing money to this illegal practice.

The Future of Digital Content

With so many different types of content available, the question plaguing information experts today isn’t what kind of content to create, but how to deliver it. With the continued popularity of smartphones, tablets, and eReaders, the average consumer now has a variety of options to turn to besides their computer to get the latest piece of digital content. Therefore, to be successful in the digital content realm, content creators must determine the best way to present their digital content to consumers. Maybe it is an ebook. Maybe it is an app. The right choice depends on the needs of the audience.

How a business chooses to deliver its digital content could drastically affect its financial standing. For example, in February 2011, Google made waves in the digital content publishing world when it announced its plan for Google One Pass, a subscription plan that allows publishers to sell digital content on the web and through mobile applications using Google’s existing payment service, Google Checkout. With Google One Pass, Google takes 10% of each transaction, while Apple’s subscription model required 30% of each transaction of digital content, like books, music and magazines within its App Store. With numbers like these, content creators must choose their mode of delivery carefully.