Close on the heels of my side box comments about NewCorp’s influence being felt at the WSJ.com, I listened to an interesting discussion on KQED’s Forum about the Future of Newspapers on Friday. It was an interesting discussion that included Phil Bronstein, the departing editor of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The discussion about how newspapers make money and can continue to make money today was quite interesting. Especially when you extend the same concepts to online services and this mentality of free advertising supported services. My biggest complained about my recent visit to WSJ.com was that there were all these animated advertisements that started to jump out at me. It was very distracting and frustrating, I felt like I had to work extra hard just to find and to read the article I went to the WSJ.com to read.
We find ourselves in an interesting catch-22. Ideally, you create a product or service that others find valuable and willing to pay for. With advertising, you create a product or service that can attract a lot of eyeballs and then sell advertising to support it. Who cares if the product or service is hard to use or requires you to spend more time on it than you should to accomplish a task…that’s more eye balls, more clicks, more advertising revenue.
I have thought that mixing the internet advertising technology with the newspaper would be the best way to support that business. Have customer configured ala-cart services and advertise within those services that helps pay for these services. Customers get to read what they want and the advertising helps pay for it. But, how do you allocate the advertising resources out to pay for the content? that could lead to popular content thriving while the meaningful, but less popular, content being starved.
So then, how do you pay for the services that our society as a whole really needs? How do newspapers pay for the in depth reporting on social topics that are important (even if us readers don’t realize it yet)? Is it enough to have the popular content pay for the not so popular content?
This is a constant battle that most founders and CEOs of web2.0 like startups are dealing with every day…pay for service or advertising paid service. The parallels continue…