Must-Read: Ben Thompson: Defining Aggregators

September 28, 2017
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Must-Read: Ben Thompson: Defining Aggregators: “Value has shifted away from companies that control the distribution of scarce resources to those that control demand for abundant ones… https://stratechery.com/2017/defining-aggregators/

…The purpose of this article is to catalog exactly what the latter look like. Aggregators have… Direct Relationship with Users… Zero Marginal Costs For Serving Users… Demand-driven Multi-sided Networks with Decreasing Acquisition Costs…. Aggregation is fundamentally about owning the user relationship and being able to scale that relationship.

That said, there are different levels of aggregation based on the aggregator’s relationship to suppliers…. Level 1 Aggregators acquire their supply; their market power springs from their relationship with users, but is primarily manifested through superior buying power… Netflix…. Level 2 Aggregators… incur transaction costs in bringing suppliers onto their platform… industries with significant regulatory concerns that apply to the quality and safety of suppliers…. Level 3 Aggregators do not own their supply and incur no supplier acquisition costs (either in terms of attracting suppliers or on-boarding them). Google is the prototypical Level 3 Aggregator…. Social networks are also Level 3 Aggregators…. Level 3 aggregators are predicated on massive numbers of users, which means they are usually advertising-based (which means they are free to users)…. Super-Aggregators operate multi-sided markets with at least three sides — users, suppliers, and advertisers — and have zero marginal costs on all of them. The only two examples are Facebook and Google…

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