Jindall: publishers should worry
Wednesday, March 10th, 2004
UK publishing consultant Ian Jindal writes:
Recent estimates put the number of weblogs at between 1.5 and 3 million, excluding simple diaries or home pages. It’s also clear that there’s a power-law relationship in operation where the top few hundred blogs are attracting very serious levels of traffic.
Where, then, does this leave online publishers, especially those who publish news and analysis titles? What impact does this outpouring of information and opinion have upon our businesses? Other than publishers who have created unassailable positions through the creation of unique, necessary and clearly valuable content (eg Reuters, Bloomberg or news agencies), the majority of publishers fall into the ‘nice to have’ or ‘interest-based’ sectors rather than the ‘need to have’. Revenue models depend upon subscription, syndication and advertising, but with increasing amount of relevant, current content available free of charge, subscriptions and syndication opportunities are under pressure. Equally, with advertising following traffic volume and ‘what’s cool’ at a given time then advertising is also moving to Blogs. Henry Copeland’s Blogads approach should cause concern for publishers to the youth or strategic business market (http://www.blogads.com – the introduction is pithy and convincing).
Publishers would assert that in a time of mass ‘push’ of info that their imprimatur communicates quality assurance; that they invest in research and origination and that their reputation adds weight to their comments. This is patently of limited commercial comfort. Some of the bloggers are experts in their fields and do not need to be interpreted or validated by a ‘title’. Equally, journalists’ own blogs are often researched to the same standards as the titles for which they write – and challenges to their views and corrections or updates are much more readily and clearly made. Finally, many of the blogging systems are as sophisticated as expensive CMS offerings of but a couple of years ago. The online publishing standard has never been higher, nor more broadly available.