Once upon a time, consumers relied on newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals to get the information they wanted. This required paying for the content. No one really thought twice about the value exchange. Publishers could continue to create content and be compensated through subscriptions and ad sales, and consumers had access to the information they desired. It was a win-win for publishers and consumers.
That is until the Internet arrived. The information super highway quickly became a breeding ground for publishers of all shapes and sizes to deliver content to visitors with little or no startup costs. Now, it would be mind-boggling not to find something one was looking for – no matter how obscure. And fueling the ability for publishers of all sizes to provide content online is monetization through advertising.
But this is where value exchange disrupted everyone’s happily ever after.
How advertisers chose to incorporate ads into their sites ranged greatly – from subtle placements to transforming their sites into billboards. While some ads may have been contextually relevant and useful to end consumers, some fell into the category of irrelevant and/or invasive. Unfortunately, these “bad apples” seemed to have spoiled the experience and popular opinion. Technology helped with relevance, but brought new concerns including anonymity on the web and frustrations over remarketing. The resulting experience for consumers has been a bit of a mixed bag.
This environment ushered in the era of ad blockers. After all, necessity is the mother of invention, right?
But let’s close our eyes and imagine what the online world would look like if publishers were left without advertising as a revenue stream. Many publishers would not to be able research, produce and deliver content. The larger publishers would struggle to meet payroll and the small/individual publishers wouldn’t have incentive to invest their time and energy. This essentially describes the current challenge facing publishers today. Thus the rise of subscription and micro-payments models. These models could be effective for some of the better-known publishers where the value of their content has already been established in the consumer’s mind, but it does not help the small or niche publishers. They are the ones that really suffer from ad blocking and struggle with waning revenue.
It’s time to open our eyes again. The situation is not dire, because there are ways to restore balance in that value exchange. “This issue will find its equilibrium – and may precipitate new and innovative ways for publishers to monetize access to content, oriented around consumer choice,” states our CMO, Dan Slivjanovski.
As an intermediary with a full technology stack, RhythmOne is uniquely positioned to explore solutions that enable publishers to develop and monetize high-value content without compromising the consumer experience. Consumers are not opposed to compensating publishers. The trick is choice – and this is what we believe has been missing from the equation. If we are able to spark a dialogue directly between consumers and publishers, creative solutions – and restoration of an equitable value exchange – will naturally arise.
Through our owned and operated properties, we have begun beta testing solutions that will provide consumers with choices about how they compensate publishers to consume the content they enjoy and value – from subscriptions and micro-payments, to white listing to tools that facilitate revenue sharing opportunities by compensating publishers when consumers perform activities they would normally undertake – like search.
RhythmOne is committed finding innovative approaches to building a digital ecosystem that is respectful, impactful and sustainable for both consumers and publishers.