Turning inner space into outer space

December 22, 2012

The future of journalism is no ads

I predict 2013 will be the year that news publishers say No to animations of trucks driving around on their websites in the hope that they might help a local dealership sell a car or two.

It will be the year when they say, “Enough with the humiliation!”

It’s humiliating to the institution of journalism, which has been reduced to the lowest grade of shilling imaginable. It’s humiliating to readers who are forced to look at this crap. And it’s humiliating to the advertisers themselves, because it makes them despised by potential customers.

In 2013, publishers will say, “Thank you for your support, Advertisers, but your services are no longer required.”

Advertisers will find this a liberating experience, because they never truly felt welcome in the first place.

Publishers will be able to say goodbye to advertisers because they will have built up engagement with their readers through transparency, authenticity, and participation. And these readers will happily respond by paying for memberships and premium services.

Other revenue will come from sponsors who genuinely support the site and who will pay for the privilege of having their brand exposed on it.

OK, so maybe this is more a fantasy than a prediction. But I truly do believe that scrounging around for ad dollars on the Internet is foolish and unproductive. It might not happen in 2013, but the sooner publishers wake up to this reality the better.

We need to get rid of ads so we can create websites that we — and our readers — are proud of.

If you’re interested in more predictions, check this out: Nieman Journalism Lab asked “the smartest people we know” to come up with prognostications for 2013. The result is a thought-provoking collection that you really must read.