Worth Reading: The Tragedy of Online Media

There’s undeniably a supply and demand problem in digital media. Simulmedia CEO Dave Morgan told Digiday it would be what kept him awake if he was a publisher. In Ad Age Gene Hoffman goes a step farther. The CEO of subscription tech service Vindicia says that the digital media world is trapped in an unrelenting “race to the bottom” that will force niche publishers into tough choices and could spell the end of the mostly open Internet content world.

“This is the fundamental problem with the present-day advertising model,” he writes. “To build the necessary scalability to attract and retain advertisers who support the underlying business, online media companies have to forgo niches. These are the business imperatives for advertising-supported media businesses.”

Hoffman’s solution, naturally, is more subscription services, something his company happens to offer. Still, his point holds that the Internet content model is askew when a shining star like The Huffington Post comes by its success by publishing up to 1,000 pieces of content per day. Morgan recommends publishers take a page out of the book of Zynga with its multiple revenue streams — and the way a small percentage of its audience pays to support a much larger audience.

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