Liam Tiernan

Ad-supported media in the current age


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When you can’t tell what’s an ad and what’s an article, you know you’re in deep shit

In today’s digital age, there are questions and concerns about the future of ad-based media. Some in the media industry are concerned that in a world where ad-based media reigns supreme, the corporations buying the adspace are the ones who get to choose which media companies flourish and which ones die. This is a serious implication for the ethics and standards of an industry where ethically and morally balanced and impartial work is supposed to be the expectation.

Medium CEO Evan Williams, in a January blog post, describes ad-supported media as a “broken system,” and laid off one-third of his employees by closing offices in an attempt to steer his startup away from their ad-based model.

Williams said that due to the nature of advertising and the corporations that pay for it content is now being amplified and rewarded based on the corporations desires-and also says that it’s getting worse.

I believe that it’s possible that an ad-based media startup may have trouble in maintaining the truly journalistic ethics and behaviors that we truly need in this era of misinformation. Money is one of the biggest factors that compromise these essential facets of the industry, and advertising is all about money.

There are some in the industry that disagree with Williams, however. Jay Lauf, CEO of business company Quartz, said on a podcast following William’s post that he doesnt believe the death of digital advertising is on the horizon but rather that sloppy or misguided applications are the true reason for the fears in the industry.

Lauf’s position is that the reason for the dysfunction of ad-based business is an inability of media companies to move away from the “crummy” ad experiences that have proliferated such low ad revenues and so many adblockers online.

I agree with Lauf for the most part. Advertising online is a nightmare for any user to try to fight through without the help of an adblocker. Some news sites are completely unreadable because of the number of ad in the sidebar, popup ads, and forced, corny sponsored content. Many times I give up when attempting to read news online because of these very reasons.



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