1) Print advertising will never come back. There are just too many options for advertisers today and too much pressure on rates. Sadly, success in print will be measured in single-digit declines, forever. 2) Online advertising will never offset those declines nor save print. There’s far too much competition online and far too much available inventory; and 3) Users will not pay for content, unless they’re convinced it has immediate and tangible value.I do see a couple of plausible game changers in the not so distant future
- Tablet PC's - I do most of my reading on my Blackberry like many other commuters. It's good enough for me, and I actually can find and read more relevant content than I could with any newspaper or magazine. But while a mobile device works well for many users, it doesn't work well for advertisers yet. A Tablet PC could change this if it provides adequate fidelity for rich advertisements, a good user experience, a decent price, long battery life, etc.
- Shared Search Revenue - I agree with TechCrunch's assessment that 5 clicks free
won't provide significant revenue to Publishers that participate. It could be a game changer if publishers form networks and force users to pay for clicks to participating sites, but this has risks of alienating users. What Google and Microsoft/Bing are showing is that they are willing to negotiate with Publishers and possibly share search revenue with them. What happens if Google shares X% of search revenue to Publishers that show up in the top Y search results? It probably won't generate significant revenue for Publishers, but it would give another source other than advertising or subscription.
- Pay for context, not content - Would I pay $3 to download a digital magazine at the airport? Should newspapers charge to access its news and analysis from 6-10am, then make it free afterward? Would I drop cable tv (and its fat costs) in lieu for an online video and news subscription?