Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Quality vs. glitter

Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 discovers an intriguing nexus of issues and ideas, contrasting the revenue woes of traditional journalism with the worries of online publishers who create sites only to attract Google AdSense dollars. It's a longish post well worth reading for several reasons.

The main take-away, for me, is confirmation of the observation we made here some time ago: It's not raining on us; it's just raining. The creative destruction unleashed in a digital, networked world falls on everybody. Some get hit sooner, some get hit harder, some prosper for a while and then wilt in a subsequent phase. It's all about change and adaptability; it's about evolution.

Here's one sample from Scott's ruminations:

Even more interesting is the net effect on content — a regression to the mean of content quality. Neither hacked together crappy content, on the one extreme, nor Pulitzer Prize journalism, on the other, can any longer thrive in a Google-driven content ecosystem.

Why? Because most people don’t find either to be sufficiently valuable. Not valuing Made For AdSense content isn’t difficult to fathom. As for investigative journalism, etc., it’s not that people didn’t value it when it came packaged with the newspaper. It’s just that most people don’t search for it (and search drives the web), and there isn’t a market for running ads next to it.

This doesn’t mean that investigative journalism will cease to exist or that clever online publishers won’t find ways to make money from online advertising without investing in content. It’s just that the economics of both have shifted to the middle — at least for now.

I mentioned on his blog that I think this analysis misses one significant exception: powerful as it is, AdSense isn't everything. While the revenue dynamics of AdSense-type advertising may well serve to push content toward the middle of the quality/glitter spectrum, it's not the only revenue model available.

Thankfully, banner advertising (we call it "display" in newspapers) continues to work well for many purposes like reputation building, branding and new product introductions. A new study from the Journal of Consumer Research, summarized in an article here, makes that very encouraging point very plainly.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the info

    take care