I think we’re about to see a content revolution in the digital realm. We have devices like Kindle, Sony Reader, B&N eReader and iPad now being built to deliver words. People are beginning to pay for full versions of the The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. For years we have created this false expectation that everything on the Web should be free. But the paper isn’t what makes books and newspapers great–it’s the content.
The Internet has been so focused on click rates and search engine analytics, but Click Forensics reports more than 15% of SEM clicks and up to 30% of stream clicks are fake. This goes beyond quality impressions to paying for impressions that aren’t even real. What are we really getting for our obsession on clicks?
We end up with a world wide web of re-branded content. The Pew Research Center reports that 95% of previously unreported stories come from traditional news sources rather than blogs, Twitter, or local websites. As Josh Chasin from MediaPost points out, “Pull the rug out from all that traditional branded content, and you’ve really pulled the rug out from most of the Web.” Like it or not, we need the system created by traditional media to support and reward good content.
William Randolph Hearst may have helped create the sensationalism of Yellow Journalism, but he also encouraged higher salaries and bylines for journalist and he certainly knew how to make money from content. These advances all helped move journalism into a valued and respectable profession of impartiality, independence, depth and quality. Maybe there’s still hope for us yet.
Eventually the new will wear off new media and people will wake up to the fact that even the virtual world needs a real revenue plan to support real content.