Is the Web dying?

This article may or may not be pay-walled, depending on how you arrive at it.   It is an exploration of the shift to apps.

The history of computing is companies trying to use their market power to shut out rivals, even when it’s bad for innovation and the consumer….That doesn’t mean the Web will disappear. Facebook and Google still rely on it to furnish a stream of content that can be accessed from within their apps. But even the Web of documents and news items could go away. Facebook has announced plans to host publishers’ work within Facebook itself, leaving the Web nothing but a curiosity, a relic haunted by hobbyists.

This is something I was getting at with my post yesterday: that advertising remains one of the Web’s unique selling points.  It is much more effective as an advertising platform than mobile apps are.  At the moment, the Internet giants extract an enormous amount of value from the content on the Web, using it to drive engagement with their services.  The Web has very low barriers to entry, but economic sustainability is difficult and the only proven revenue model appears to be advertising at scale.  The model needs liberating.

(Note: The source of this article, the Wall Street Journal, may appear to refute that, (given it has a paywall), but I believe that their model is essentially freemium and it isn’t clear to me what revenues they derive from subscription customers.)

3 thoughts on “Is the Web dying?

  1. The fact that publications like the WSJ, the Economist, and the Financial Times seem to be able to support paywalls is almost the exception that proves the rule. It is only those media properties with narrow and wealthy audiences, who pursue content with definitive pecuniary impact, and who can often charge subscription expenses to their employers, that can make a semi-successful jump to paywalls. This may work for the WSJ, but it doesn’t work for, say, USA Today or The Sun.

  2. > The Web has very low barriers to entry, but economic sustainability is difficult and the only proven revenue model appears to be advertising at scale.

    As usual it really depends on what we are talking about when we are talking about ads and the Web. The big mistake we usually do is that we put everything in a big bag as if it was the same.

    Example, many people say if they were no ads, the content on the Web would not be possible. I have known the Web without a single ads, I still know many Web sites, blogs, etc without any single ads. The thing is not that content will disappear but **some** content would disappear. And that’s entirely different. The content which is the remashing of Press releases, of the last jokes, the clickbait, etc can disappear. Something else would be created.

    There are only a very few number of Web sites which are really sustained through ads. Ads brokers are the ones who are making money. The Google, Yahoo! and so on, and have a lot of interests to not modify the business model.

    • I should have responded to this a while ago. I agree with much of what you say, but I think you might overlook the fact that there are significant publishers make a loss on Web publishing but continue to invest in anticipation of future consolidation. Much of the enriching content that is on the Web today is not ad-supported: blogs, Wikipedia and so forth. Much of the ad-supported content would not be missed exists, I would argue, because of market failure, and many publishers distort and lower the quality of their offering precisely because of how the ad market functions today.

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