Martin Sorrell, Advertiser and owner of WPP Group PLC, thinks that readers should be charged and media sources should be granted government subsidies like in his native UK. In a recent Newsweek interview he commented on such publications as Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily (the iPad-only newspaper), and the New York Times’ new pay wall: “The problem with the Internet is there’s so much of it. It’s highly fragmented, and most of it’s for free. Consumers must pay for content if they value it.” He went on to say, “Advertising-only models don’t work. There isn’t enough advertising to go around. Period.”
I agree that if a content provider places a value on their information they have every right to charge for it, but the reality is that the free content model has been established – and it’s not going anywhere. Not in the foreseeable future at least. It is our job as advertising professionals to help our clients decide which websites and news sources their consumers value and to use their dollars to support those outlets. The fact that there are not enough advertising dollars to go around is irrelevant, and maybe even a bonus for the news industry. Because the reliable, useful sources will thrive under this model, while the unworthy sources will die off. Trustworthy news sources win, advertisers win, and the consumer wins. It’s a no brainer.