The Blogosphere Running on Fumes?
Gandelman’s roundup of reactions to Pajamas Media’s shuttering of its blogging network is worth checking out. Of the various reactions I’ve seen, from anger at incompetence, to anger that PJM wasn’t right-wing enough, I think the best is by Dennis the Peasant, who republished an old post about how to make money online:
The mistake I had made was assuming that some good household data was enough information to get an advertiser to act. It isn’t. What will convince advertisers to advertise on blogs is convincing data that the decision makers for their products are at those blogs. Yeah, high household income is something advertisers like, but if it isn’t coupled with access to the decision maker they have no reason to spend with you. Their job is to convince the decision maker to buy their product. If you don’t deliver that person, they can’t do their job. If they can’t do their job, they are going move on from you to someone who will enable them do their job.
So think about this: What kind of advertising do you see on the Sunday morning talk shows? What kind of advertising do you see in the politically-oriented magazines (as opposed to news magazines)? See much in the way of advertising for computers, cell phones, video games or cameras?
This strikes me as intuitively quite right, although I’ve previously written that advertising on some blogs might create a beneficial exposure effect. (Perhaps this argument is too self-serving to be believed.)
Does the failure of political blogging to make money have any implications for the legal blogosphere? I doubt it, because the legal blogosphere, with one exception I can think of, is basically a nonprofit enterprise.
The Caron Blog Empire has a deal with Thompson-West that seems to fit with the theory, as law professors are the primary decision makers for casebooks. (Which, of course, explains why such books are routinely overpriced). But I doubt that the law professor blog network is producing a rush of revenue. Everyone else is subsidized, either directly by their underlying practices or indirectly by their law schools. (Even Volokh appears not to be currently running ads).
The only exception is Above the Law. Today they are running credit-check & job search ads. Appropriate.
(Image Source. A Ford Pinto. Go buy it, if you are feeling brave.)