Making waves in an ocean of entropy
Friday, January 31st, 2003
The Internet has outstripped TV and newspapers as an information source, says a new survey. At the same time, people believe less of what they read online and therefore have to do more cross-cking of information.
There’s a glut of ad slots and ads, news and news peddlers. In fact, thanks to the likes of CraigsList and Slashdot and what Clay Shirky labels the “mass amateurization of publishing,” both could be virtually infinite.
Traditional ad-funded media may soon be swamped in the ever-expanding info universe sparked by the Internet Big Bang. But this spreading ad and info entropy will also challenge advertisers; traditional demographic-based advertising will soon be as effective as trying to heat the moon with a blow drier.
Against this backdrop, I’ve argued that “hubness” (like hipness, but more businessy) will be the thing that differentiates blogs from other media and gives hub bloggers premium CPMs. The best blog ads will be like the billboards on Times Square — more expensive in terms of eyeballs, but good value for signalling to customers, competitors and business partners that “we’re serious.”
These blogad buyers will be the types of buzz-seeking, network-aspiring companies — software vendors, media producers, fashion peddlers, auctioneers, artists, and service providers — who traditionally promote themselves through what economists refer to as “common knowledge events,” the socially intertwined spectacles, forums and media within which participants can look at each other and say “you know I know you are watching.”
Granted, bloggers will have to cultivate and then publicize any claim to hubdom in their respective niches. (And yes, at present, few bloggers even have defined a niche beyond “what interests me today.” That’s not a bad niche, but obviously won’t cut it commercially.)
Can the blog compete commercially in the age of media entropy? As commercial organisms, blogs have short life-cycles, small metabolisms and are run by flexible egos. Up against the old, thick-shell, high-burn, multi-cell media organisms, the blog is an ideal candidate to evolve and exploit the new environment.