Friday, April 20, 2007

His Three Options Lead To My One Big Question

In March, Jon Carroll at SFGate pondered how newspapers could make money:
Many people have said that newspapers should try to figure out a way to make money off the Internet. Well, hell, everybody is trying to figure out a way to make money off the Internet. It's a national pastime.

There are three popular routes. First, come up with an idea so cool that users flock to your site (TelevisionWithoutPity, YouTube), then sell your site to a large company and let it figure out how to make money off the Internet. Second, act as a middleman for some form of economic transaction (eBay, Craigslist) and take a little taste, as Tony Soprano would say, of every transaction. Third, porn.

Porn is a multibillion-dollar business -- how multi is the subject of much speculation and little evidence, because of underreporting, cash transactions, shell companies and all the other fun parts of underground capitalism. There are even porn news sites, because porn is a business like any other and there are feuds, trends, spectacular success stories and sudden inexplicable failures.

(I have had three idle conversations in recent days with people at the UC Berkeley School of Journalism, which is worried about what it's going to be teaching in 10 years because of the aforementioned crisis in information delivery systems. I suggested to one of them that porn reporting might be a good subject. It's clearly a badly covered business sector, and the school could charge a premium for enrollment in that class, and thus make money just as the Internet makes money. But apparently there would be some alumni problems with this approach.)
What's amazing about this to me is that here's a guy who gets it ~ as several others have ~ yet no one wants to 'admit it' when it comes right down to taking action.

Porn aka the adult industry, is Big Business. So why, in a capitalistic society where "let the market dictate" is the mantra, isn't this industry recognized?

I'm not just referring to the recent (hotly contested) snubbing either.

Why isn't the market demand an indicator of public desire ~ and therefore lead to general acceptance?

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3 Comments:

Blogger Sabrina Morgan said...

Great point! I'm also wondering why is it that we can apparently sell porn (and sexual services) online but nothing else? With the abundance of free porn, and thusly the abundance of "I would never pay for porn" viewers, adult is still selling online, probably because we treat it like a marketplace to adapt to and influence rather than an entirely new form of business.

Those are the same problems any form of online content will have. Why is there a belief that sex will still sell (online) where more socially acceptable content won't? Is it because we're used to buying mainstream content offline, where sexual content is stigmatized and harder to find?

Online delivery still sucks. For much mainstream content, viewers would rather get it offline. Content that's freely or more cheaply available offline won't sell as well online with the combination of DRM compatibility issues, price point issues, and customer comfort with buying offline. People will still pay for online content they know they want or content they can't get any other way.

A cynical part of me wonders if content businesses in the 2.0 age are so ready to give up they'd rather use it as an excuse to get into a "fun" industry with a bad reputation than figure out what's working for us, and what might work for them.

April 22, 2007 5:54 PM  
Blogger Marketing Whore said...

Sabrina, your points, esp your last one, are why I started this blog. I hope you'll stick around and help us find some answers. :)

April 23, 2007 2:48 AM  
Blogger Thushara said...

My goodness

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April 4, 2008 10:07 AM  

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