This is a good summary of some of the problems big media assets are fighting against. Google, Apple and Facebook are trying to control the news and our way to get informed. They are trying to control content, because content is the gateway to ads. Quoting Patel:
Unfortunately, the ads pay for all that content, an uneasy compromise between the real cost of media production and the prices consumers are willing to pay that has existed since the first human scratched the first antelope on a wall somewhere. Media has always compromised user experience for advertising.
But the editor from The Verge doesn’t give much alternatives. He doesn’t mention the clear analogy of TV -you’ve got FTA channels, and you’ve got pay-per-view-, and he even doesn’t talk about paywalls, subscriptions, or micropayments.
There are certainly options to the current situation. I see four:
- Free content supported by ads: anyone can do this now, and will be able to do it in the future, but ad revenue will decrease, and users will for sure fight against that with adblockers.
- Paywalls: sorry, only huge media here.
- Micropayments: an option for smaller media sites. Combine that with a subscription model, and you’ve got a viable alternative for niche sites with loyal readers (Patreon is a good example of that kind of service to support those ‘creative’ sites)
- Flat rate: you pay a monthly fee ($5?) and get access to the free-ad web. Earnings are divided amongst all content providers depending on traffic (uniques, time spent there, a combination…) and any publisher can join that effort. There has to be someone managing that, maybe a consortium of tech companies providing the tools (browsers, payment gateways, etc). I see Mozilla as a clear example, and in fact the tried their own vision of this with the Subscribe2Web project. Google Contributor is a nice try too.
There are lots of possible answers to the current everything-is-free-or-seems-to-be model. Let’s see what happens, but Apple and its content blocking feature in iOS 9 has changed something here.
Let’s hope it is for the better.
PS: In case you can read in Spanish, I’ve developed this at Incognitosis.