Friday, July 8, 2016

Publishing's Virtual Reality Check

Virtual Reality: The imagined world in which a sophisticated journalism enterprise can be funded entirely by banner ads.

The latest twist on this irrational utopianism was the hope that distributing content and ads via Facebook would, in the words of MediaPost columnist Bob Garfield, "be the magic beans to grow a magic beanstalk to plunder the goose that lays the golden eggs."

Added Garfield: "Magic would be most useful at the moment, after all, due to reality totally sucking."

It turns out that in non-Virtual Reality -- often called, simply, Reality -- Facebook is going to do what's best for Facebook and not what's best for publishers or journalism or the public good.

Those who believe in Virtual Reality still insist that we can get banner ads to pay the bills if we can just generate enough page views. But publishers who try to do that end up on the Hamster Wheel of Death. The Reality is that Mobilegeddon (readers' shift from PCs to smartphones) is reducing page views per visitor and the glut of web content is shrinking revenue per view.

As The Guardian's Katharine Viner stated in a speech this week, "Innovative journalism needs a new business model."

This is the eighth in Dead Tree Edition's 31-part Publishing Word of the Day series, where we delve into the words that explain what's really happening in contemporary publishing.

No comments: