We journalists often live in denial about advertising. In that denial, it is distressing to know upwards of 80 per cent of any organization's revenue (100 per cent if you're online, in many free-subscription instances) is derived from an advertiser's commitment to your story-telling's capacity to deliver a desired audience.
It stands to reason that if you're going to buy an ad, you want it seen. And while there is great enthusiasm now about the growth in ad revenue online --- a new form of fuel for journalism, presumably, to lead us to a new business model --- there is also alarming concern about ad-averse behaviour by the audience.
This is particularly true on the booming social networks, MySpace and Facebook. Where once about one in 100 ads were clicked through (an indication people are interested in the product or service), there are indications the rate now is about one in 1,000. The latest Business Week examines this disquieting phenomenon, which involves a desensitized audience that is a bit overwhelmed by targeted advertising.
The beauty of technology is its ability to drive messages to a clearly intended target. The trouble is that the target isn't clearly targeted --- there's self-defeating clutter and multi-messaging, and the audience balks at the overload.
But the new model for journalism depends heavily on finding the right balance to create a good digital environment for direct marketers and advertisers. At the moment, even Google acknowledges it hasn't found the ideal model for the social networks.