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What did TED learn from “Giving it Away”?

How TED Learned That ‘Giving It (their talks) Away’ Increased Both Popularity And Revenue

You’d think that when you’re selling access to an invite-only conference giving away the content would be counterproductive – at least with classic economic thinking. But in an era of infinite reproduction of digital assets for “free”, the TED conference learnt that giving the talks away, increased the value of the conference, and revenue from their main conference has increased 35%.

Plus, because the brand became more powerful, they’ve spun out more conferences, bringing in more revenue, as long as people want to pay to go. Because they’re aware of the high value of the content, they pay to go.

A classic example of Techdirt’s Connect with Fans and give them a reason to buy is the path to prosperity. If you can connect with fans beyond one way communication that is.

By “giving away” the infinite for free, and helping to spread it and syndicate it as far and as wide as possible, TED was able to massively boost its brand awareness and interest, and increase the value of the seats. And that’s increased in almost every way. They moved the conference to handle more people and increased the price and introduced a (only slightly) cheaper “simulcast” conference andadded additional events. And an awful lot of that is due to the publicity generated from the free TED talks. In the past, TED was well known only in very specific circles. But by opening up and freeing the infinite goods, it’s become massively well-known throughout the world… and it’s also made the event itself able to earn a lot more money (which it then uses to further the core mission of disseminating ‘ideas worth spreading.’)

And I, for one, thank them, because the videos are great. And if ever invited I’d probably go, because I know how good the content will be. That would not have been the case because it sounded rather “stuffy” back before I knew anything about TED.