Google is a free service, and like or not, they have set an expectation that Internet content is free to visitors. There are exceptions. Like the Wall Street Journal which requires a paid subscription. But in general, if a reader is looking for information, Google will return multiple near identical articles, at least one of which will be "freely" accessible.
Respectable publishers have journalist and editor salaries to pay. Management and shareholders want profits. Spinning up a 70.5 billion dollar 2016 Internet advertising market. Until AdBlockers. Enabling visitors to legally evade their implied obligations.
Internet publishers have come under pressure to increase their advertising income (CPM) per 1000 pages viewed. Strategies have included; more ads per page; larger ads per page; pop up ads; attention grabbing ads; inappropriate ads and big data analysis for ad selection.
The visitors, fueled by their expectation that publisher services should be free, have objected to this systemically more intrusive advertising. Adopting a series of ad ignoring strategies. Ignoring advertisements entered a new realm with the availability of free AdBlocking technology from companies like AdBlock Plus.
The resulting Mexican stand off between publishers and their visitors must find a win win balance. Publishers need income. Readers eyes deserve respect.
The advertising tension between publishers and their audiences is not new. Our Traditional Media channels have wrestled with this for as long as they have existed. Print publications have found a balance. Books are sold without advertising. Magazines are offered at subsidized prices that reflect the quality of writing and the amount of advertising. Certain magazines are sealed to prevent viewing without paying. Television channels elevate the sound level of adverts. Feature films back load adverts knowing viewers will want to watch the finale. The compromises reached between publishers and viewers reflects the maturity of the traditional media industry, and the limited technologies available to evade advertising.
New Media is an emerging industry that has not established the definition of fair play. New media is equipped with many technologies that facilitate all sorts of unacceptable social behavior. While New Media copyright laws have a lot of catching up to do. But at the heart of the issue is technology enabled selfishness for both parties. Publishers have become desperate for revenue and ignored the needs of their viewers. Especially when delivering large media files to mobile users who need to manage their data plans. Visitors in their frustration have installed AdBlockers without much regard for the needs of good publishers to earn an income for their work.
The choice we face is New Media litigation and regulation vs. voluntary behavioral change on both sides. But one way or the other the New Media business is not going to go away. It will find revenue models that work. While the appetite of consumers, young and older, to receive their information in a free (exchange of value) digital format will only grow.
In the midst of this publisher tension lies a much greater evil. It is known as trolling. The propagation of knowingly false information. Our modern day digital gossip. As publisher revenues drop per CPM (1000 page views) - through AdBlocking and other technologies - they have little incentive to stop content spreading and increasing page views. Facebook and Google have said, "we do not want to be the editors of social media or custodians of truth." In reality they would open themselves to all sorts of litigation if they even tried to censor the content the public post.
It saddens me to think of the legislation it has required to reform obviously wrong social behavior in our past. The legislation to stop littering. The EPA regulations to stop dentists allowing mercury down the drain. The imposition of fines to limit water use in times of drought.
It troubles me to think of the poor social behaviors that are not yet regulated. Many pertaining to air, water and soil quality. By consumers and industry alike.
What are we going to do to continue the free availability of accurate New Media information by quality publishers?