Paying for news

Newspaper revenue really started to collapse well over a decade ago, and we've been discussing what to do about it for almost as long.

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None of the issues have changed much: newspapers had an oligopoly of attention and an oligopoly of a certain kind of advertising reach, and the internet removed both of these. People read many more things in many more places and advertisers have many more and better options, and so newspaper ad revenue is down by three quarters or more. Meanwhile, Google and Facebook created huge new ad businesses on the internet, that advertisers prefer, and some newspaper companies think that somehow or other they should get some of that money. That was the case in 2010 or even 2000, and it's the case now, except that the numbers got worse.

If one cares about these things, it's worth noting that a lot of Google and FB ad revenue doesn't actually come from things that used to be in newspapers: many of their advertisers are SMEs that rarely advertised before, while many actual newspaper advertisers moved to things that don't look like ads at all. The real estate agent that bought inserts now pays Zillow or Zoopla, and the soap company is paying Amazon for search placement (Amazon had close to $20bn in revenue from this in 2020, and perhaps more profit than AWS). Meanwhile, very little of the traffic on Google or Facebook comes from news, and very little advertising (and less with much value) appears (Read more...)