Editors and reporters who make a living from journalism are in despair that advertising is disaggregating from the traditional platforms that supported their calling. But isn’t there opportunity, too? The newspaper and broadcaster makes money by putting ads in a platform (print or channel) where viewers/readers congregate. Why not make money by bringing the consumers to the advertisements, whereever they reside? To do that, you have to compensate the reader/viewer for looking at the ad. If you own the user relationship, and you create the flow of compensation to the viewer, you can take a cut.
Paul Maidment, the executive editor of Forbes magazine, understood this well when he commented in an interview Feb. 25, 2005 during “On the Media” with Brook Gladstone: “What will happen next is that audience will say: ‘If you’re going to sell us to advertisers, then you’ve got to pay us. And that’s the real long-term challenge that I think newspapers are going to be facing.’ ”
At Federated Media, John Battelle, writing in 2005, also understood the power of allowing ads to find their own users.
Think opportunity, not challenge. Why not lead the readers to the ads, whereever they are, and take a cut of the compensation the readers receive? Or, more directly, why not lead the reader/viewer into a relationship with a sponsor or product vendor, and take a cut for doing so. Are there ethical issues with that, so long as the role is transparent and disclosed?