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« Shirky on SOPA | Main | Sic transit »

Jan 19, 2012

Comments

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Roch101

I found this interesting:

"This belief in “free” information is blocking future potential paths for the Internet. What if ordinary users routinely earned micropayments for their contributions? If all content were valued instead of only mogul content, perhaps an information economy would elevate success for all."
I wonder what that would look like, how it could happen. If only we knew an economist...

Billy Jones

Roch, "I wonder what that would look like, how it could happen. If only we knew an economist..."

The biggest barrier we currently face and the biggest reason newspapers are unable to profit from their online efforts is this skewed notion that just because digital is cheaper to produce that advertising via digital means should be inexpensive when compared to print. Well, that ans some quirk of humanity that makes people want to be slaves and sharecroppers.

An ad impression is still an ad impression is still an ad impression be it on paper, billboard or a web page and the mainstream print industry cut its own throat the minute they started selling online page views for less than printed page views.

Anyone notice that while newspapers are falling flat on their faces, the billboard industry and radio has clicked right along. Can't click on billboards and radio.

Ed Cone

Traditional publishers sold their advertisers a mass audience, but the elements that drew that mass audience have been stripped away on the web, and the audience now finds information differently.

Also, a host of new competitors (some armed with tools traditional publishers didn't have, e.g., search algorithms, massive amounts of user generated content) help set web ad prices.

So it's actually pretty easy to argue that the broken pricing system is the one for print ads, which now reach dwindling audiences who come for the stuff (news) that used to be subsidized by the things that have been unbundled by the web.

That's not to say traditional publishers have played this game well, many errors are clear in hindsight, but I think there's a good case for web ads and print ads being different animals with different pricing logic.

Billy Jones

Ed, "but I think there's a good case for web ads and print ads being different animals with different pricing logic."

And that case would be?

Roch101

The paragraph I quoted was specifically in reference to a market independent of advertising. So I don't think the barrier is that ad prices are undervalued.

Billy Jones

Roch, "...a market independent of advertising" = no revenue = no micropayments. I hardly think our local economist can explain it any better.

Roch101

You are reiterating what we acknowledge is the status quo, Billy. What I'm wondering about, and hence, why I asked, is what might an online economy independent of advertising might look like.

Ed Cone

Billy, the argument I have for web and print ads being priced differently is the one I made in the comment you excerpted -- they are aimed at different kinds of audiences, they run alongside different media, and are priced in different competitive landscapes.

Billy Jones

Roch, "What I'm wondering about, and hence, why I asked, is what might an online economy independent of advertising might look like."

My guess is dead. Yes, a few websites successfully charge readers but it's not a model that I think would work for most of the web. Are you ready to charge people to read your websites? I know I'm not.

Ed, "-- they are aimed at different kinds of audiences, they run alongside different media, and are priced in different competitive landscapes."

Close but no cigar. Advertising rates should be based in effectiveness. And I seriously doubt that seeing an ad on a billboard or in print just one time is any more effective than one exposure. Different media, different competitive landscapes? That sounds like a slick sales pitch with little basis in fact.

I ain't buying.

Do you remember the last billboard you saw? I certainly don't even though I drove by several today. And yet that billboard company is still getting paid even though it's ads didn't leave any more of an impression than the last print or internet ad I can't remember.

Your argument is in-fact, what has been long used to excuse cheaper online advertising but there's no way you can prove you're right. In fact, for most the model simply hasn't worked at all.

Ed Cone

The rise of non-journalistic online platforms for advertising (e.g. Google, Facebook) really does make digital publishing different from print publishing. And the way people use online media (going straight to a desired article, instead of flipping through a publication) makes it different from print.

There are other funding models besides subscriptions and banner ads, e.g.,the public radio pledge-drive model. That doesn't mean all or most websites will be profitable (for that matter, the mortality rate among print publishers has been pretty high, too) but there are benefits to publishing a personal website beyond making money.

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