This article is from 2009 but it makes very valid points and predictions about the economics of online journalism. Here’s one of the key points.
“2. Measurability of users: If you placed an ad on page 3 in a newspaper with a circulation of 100,000 or a broadcast watched by 5million, you didn’t think about the readers who only bought that paper for the sport; or the viewers who popped out to put the kettle on – and that’s before we talk about circulation figures inflated by the assumption that every paper was read by 3 or 4 people.
Online you know exactly how many have looked at a specific page. Not only that, you know exactly how many have clicked on an ad. And you know exactly how many made a purchase (etc.) as a result.
There’s more: you know what page the user was coming from and went to; you know what search terms they were using; you know what country they are in, how high spec their computer; and depending on how much data they’re provided, a whole lot more besides.
There are two huge implications of this measurability (which many advertisers are only just waking up to).
Firstly, advertisers expect more. Online, advertising has moved from a print/broadcast model of paying per thousand viewers (CPM) to paying per thousand clicks (CPC) to paying per action – i.e. purchases, etc. (CPA).
Secondly, it means that editors and managers now know in much more detail not only what readers actually read – but what they want to read (what they are searching for). My name’s Britney Spears, by the way.”