Just picture this for a minute.
Your city puts in a brand-new monorail system.
A Journalist rides it to work.
On the platform, someone steals his wallet.
The Journalist gets in to work and writes a long
think piece about "how can Journalism survive in the
age of monorail technology?"
Please, knock it off.
Yes, Journalism is in trouble. But it's not
the monorail, or the Internet, that's taking your
Journalists, the Internet is just the playing
field for a game that other companies are beating
your employers at. (Just like Amazon is better at
but that's another story.)
Why are news organizations failing?
Alexis C. Madrigal said it
The ad market, on which we all depend, started
going haywire. Advertisers didn’t have to buy
The Atlantic. They could buy ads on networks
that had dropped a cookie on people visiting The
Atlantic. They could snatch our audience right out
from underneath us.
The problem isn't Advertising as
Advertising has always been part of the revenue
mix for Journalism. Back in the day, we used to
say that the ads paid for the content, and the
subscription revenue paid for printing and postage.
Good journalism can be a high-signal ad venue, so
the potential rewards to advertisers are great.
Supporting Journalism on the
Internet isn't about going from ad-supported to
some untried subscription-only model. We can fix the
bugs in what we have.
Where is the money going?
The problem is that advertisers are caught up in the Big Data
Instead of putting ad budgets to work where they can send a
and supporting Journalism along the way,
advertisers are choosing third-party ads, which follow
users across multiple sites, instead.
While Journalism depends on advertising,
half of the online ad money is going to adtech
and another half is getting
doesn't add up to 100% because the adtech
companies get their cut from the fraud perpetrators
too, but, come on, Journalists, of course you have
The advertising business has been sold on the
proposition that it's possible to reach an audience
without paying for some kind of quality product to
put the ads on. Instead of attaching an ad to an
attention-getting article, the current fad is to
spend on intermediaries instead. The result has
been crappier advertising, less money for content,
and more money for fraud.
Eric Picard writes,
It will be hard for publishers—even the large ones—to resist the momentum that will build to plug into these walled gardens, forcing publishers to effectively commoditize themselves in exchange for access to identity, targeting and analytics data.
How does working for a commodity publisher sound?
Not so good? Tired of watching pay, benefits, and
expense accounts shrivel up, while somehow the online
ad business is all Aeron chairs and free tacos?
It's a game. Make a move already.
This is where Journalists can stop lamenting the
Future of Journalism, and, ready? Act in your own
economic interests for once. Look, the Internet is
not hard-wired against you. It's just that people who
understand it better than you—online ad business
and their frenemies, the ad fraud gangs—are
using it to rip you off.
I'm going to give you three suggested moves. But it's
up to you. At least get in the game.
You have to learn privacy tech anyway, so take
a few extra minutes to learn the economics of
how user tracking affects your own
Try an anti-tracking tool. Not just a
general-purpose ad blocker, but something
that specifically deals with the targeted ad
Disconnect and Privacy
Badger are two
that work for me.
Have a look at online ads from the
advertiser's side. Spend a little money
on ads to promote your own blog. See how
it works. (Or try something a little
Address people's primal fears
about Internet privacy. Write about the privacy
tech that works for you. Get your audience started
The more you make your audience aware of tracking
problems and motivate them to be harder to track,
the more motivation the advertisers have to work in
a constructive way.
For Journalists, a future high-signal/low-tracking
online ad business isn't just a
As far as I can see, it's the best shot
at a respectable living.
Accidental equality: Three publisher take-aways from
Your Ad Ran Here (Not
Big Data and
Syndicated 2014-11-07 17:13:46 from Don Marti