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Au revoir free content online? | February 4, 2009

We have been pretty lucky when it comes to online content. Advertisers pay online publishers so we don’t have to. We can go to YouTube and watch videos, NYT and read the news, Facebook and catch up with friends and never pay a dime. I know I often take this for granted. Honestly, I don’t even see it as a luxury. Why would I have to pay for that? And most of the general public feels the same way.

But free is turning into a bit of a pickle. Advertisers aren’t spending as much (did you know it’s a recession?), so that revenue model is breaking. Free isn’t cutting it. YouTube might go bankrupt, Facebook is struggling with their ads, and if they are struggling we know others are having problems.

So will they charge the people? Digital drop-off would be huge. In this economy people do not want to start dropping bills for things that were once free. Online publishing would go straight Darwin, survival of the fittest. Is this really an option? Or do we need to improve the ad revenue model? Is there an option C? I can’t really say I have the answer on this one. If you do, let me know.


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