News consumption

Fred had a post up a few days ago asking if people would pay for news. This is a topic I've been thinking about in recent months too.

We all pay for news in one way or another. I had a post up last year about my own news consumption strategy. That system is in tact and still working for me today. Other people have shared their own systems, so it's clear that a lot of us spend a lot of time consuming news and thinking about how we do that. I would argue that we all "pay" with either time/attention, money or both.

Revenue compression in the news and publishing space is nothing new. There have been a slew of companies approaching this issue from different angles. My old companies, Sphere and Outbrain, pioneered the content recommendation unit and content marketing movement that followed. Taboola followed suit soon after and today, many people don't see any difference between those recommendations and other ads.

What's new-er is a general distaste for any form of advertising on the page, as evidenced by the rise in usage of ad blockers. In the US, 15-20% of users block ads and in EU, it's approaching 50%. A new category of companies have appeared to tackle this issue from either the publisher or reader perspectives.

PageFair works with publishers to serve ads in a way that blockers cannot circumvent and promise greater respect for users and advertisers alike.

Sourcepoint offers publishers technology to help quantify their monetization challenges and increase the options available for consumers to support the content they consume.

Brave is attempting to address the problem with an entirely new web browser. They promise faster and more private browsing by reducing the page load through limiting cookies and ads. They also have visions on an ad replacement mechanism whereby readers can pay to consume content ad-free via micropayments from an integrated bitcoin wallet.

We've met with a few other companies, still pre-launch, who are attempting to offer an ad-free experience that satisfies both publisher and consumer interests. This is a hard problem to solve, but somebody is going to figure it out. I think we may be nearing a redesign of traditional online content monetization strategies.