With leaked information about changes to Google’s AdWords and plans from Facebook to roll out an ad network of its own, it’s clear that if your revenue model is ad-based and isn’t driven by Google or Facebook, find a new model. Automated ad-buying is making the value of page views an outright commodity, and the effectiveness of banner advertising (while always dubious in my view) is at rock bottom.
Page views (as a measure of value) are dead:
An analysis of one international brand’s traffic from display ads found that of the thousands of visitors they bought over a multi-week period, only two users registered a non-zero engaged time. Meaning only two people read any of it.
Meanwhile, even social engagement is an unreliable indicator of real reach among an audience, when thousands of likes and followers can be had for meager investment.
I say good riddance!
Much hand-wringing has gone on about page view chasing causing a loss of focus on the mission, but with no real alternative to present. I think we always knew in our gut that counting hits or suffering trolls wasn’t a good approach to build lasting relationships with the communities (geographic and topic-based) we set out to serve. And that’s what good content — good journalism — is all about.
I’ve been reading Jeff Jarvis’ posts on Medium on this subject and found resonance with the concept of advocating and enabling:
We need to use or build platforms that enable a community to express and discern its goals.
What’s great about this is that it provides a crystal clear “Why” for the organization. Considering a new product/service/platform/event? Does it enable the community to express and discern it’s goals?
Such a position also allows for an organization to layer its approach and slate of offerings. Small, focused platforms provide specificity for both the community and those who want to reach and support them. By crafting many of them, each with a clarity of purpose and how it makes money, the organization becomes less at risk to disruption. Antifragile, even.
It’s not easy, and there’s probably plenty of pain yet to come as the old model (even the newest old model) grinds to a halt. But I suggest that the fun part is around the corner.