When technology journalist Rafat Ali suddenly found himself out of work he had to find a way of making a living. Based in NYC in the late 90s Mr Ali covered the dot com boom with internet media company inside.com. But when his employer went under in 2001 as the internet bubble burst he packed his backs, headed for London and became one man blogging machine. This is where the story of paidContent:UK, a website covering issues facing the media industry and the business of mobile content, all began.
From blog-to-riches Ali sold his site to the Guardian Media group for £4m in 2008: a great success for the blogger-entrepreneur. How did he do it? It was a time when blogging was beginning to grow as newspaper sales were declining sharply and the media business was left in the lurch. Mr Ali took a leap and landed on his feet.
One of the most important issues for any blog is the question of how to sustain its activities. Many news sites adopt a combination of ads and charging for access. Advertising has changed as much as the news industry, rushing to new media platforms such as social media sites, online TV and blogs. It would certainly help bloggers to understand how advertising companies operate or at least how they target audiences in a way that traditional ads in the paper can’t.
Former JOMEC student, Robert Andrews, at paidContent:UK said online advertising had less of a premium due to the volume of the web. How true. On a newspaper there are a limited number of pages where the audience will engage with the ad. Online, however, page space is unlimited.
Space may be limited but can the same be said for quality? If bloggers can create enough valuable and quality content then surely this will help to raise the capital of their online space, that is, capital measured by number of viewers.
But the real challenge to the blogging world is converting viewer attention into revenue. This is where the debate about paid content begins. Display banners are one of the traditional methods of online advertising but are they the future? Contextual adverts offer the ability to advertise on sites by buying near particular keywords. But tablets such as the ipad are changing this model.
The web, in fact, may only be a transitory stage before technology races ahead, where people will consume media on tablets, apps and mobile media. For news this may not be so bad a transition. Mr Andrews revealed people are willing to pay for apps, while this new platform looks more like the print product on new technology than it does on the web just like the New York Times Google Web app.
Is this the beginning of the end for the web?
Perhaps bloggers should be developing apps to stay ahead of the game.