Will Content Ever be Profitable?
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THE CURRENT WORRIES 1. Content Suppliers The Ethos of Free Content Content Suppliers is the underprivileged sector of the Internet.They all lose money (even sites which offer basic, standardized goods - books, CDs), with the exception of sites offering sex or tourism. No user seems to be grateful for the effort and resources invested in creating and distributing content. The recent breakdown of traditional roles (between publisher and author, record company and singer, etc.) and the direct access the creative artist is gaining to its paying public may change this attitude of ingratitude but hitherto there are scarce signs of that. Moreover, it is either quality of presentation (which only a publisher can afford) or ownership and (often shoddy) dissemination of content by the author. A really qualitative, fully commerce enabled site costs up to 5,000,000 USD, excluding site maintenance and customer and visitor services. Despite these heavy outlays, site designers are constantly criticized for lack of creativity or for too much creativity. More and more is asked of content purveyors and creators. They are exploited by intermediaries, hitch hiker sand other parasites. This is all an off-shoot of the ethos of the Internet as a free content area.
Most of the users like to surf (browse, visit sites) the net without reason or goal in mind. This makes it difficult to apply to the web traditional marketing techniques.
What is the meaning of "targeted audiences" or "market shares" in this context? If a surfer visits sites which deal with aberrant sex and nuclear physics in the same session - what to make of it?
Moreover, the public and legislative backlash against the gathering of surfer's data by Internet ad agencies and other web sites - has led to growing ignorance regarding the profile of Internet users, their demography, habits, preferences and dislikes.
"Free" is a key word on the Internet: it used to belong to the US Government and to a bunch of universities. Users like information, with emphasis on news and data about new products. But they do not like to shop on the net - yet. Only 38% of all surfers made a purchase during 1998.
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