Fortune Magazine: Is Slashdot the Future?

Back in February David Kirkpatrick, Fortune Magazine's senior editor, raved about Slashdot and SourceForge as the future of media.   He focuses on the power of content and communities generated by users and notes how effectively and powerfully Slashdot manages content and community with minimal staff. 

Kirkpatrick ponders the implications of open source "revolution" noting that open source is:

… Creating something of tremendous widespread utility for the ego value …

How powerful will ego be in shaping the media landscape of the future?   I've been noting at events like Mashup Camp as well as chats with people from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Amazon, etc, etc that large numbers of extremely bright people are motivated to a very large extent by pride and virtuosity rather than a narrow focus on money.    It's not just coincidence that corporate giants Yahoo and Google began in academia as non-commercial projects.   Both were inspired more by the interests of their creators than by a quest for dollars, yet rose to become two of the most successful companies in the history of commerce.
Of course profits and selfishness will play significant roles in the future of almost all companies, but perhaps the ability of the internet to leverage time, skills, and social connections so effectively is also generating more ego-based economic activity than ever before.

Online vs Offline Advertising – an epidemic of irrationality.

Matt McAlister is unimpressed with online advertising.

OK, but take a look at OFFLINE dude! I replied to him over at his blog:

I think you may be overestimating the abysmal stats behind conventional advertising. Online, the 1% of people clicking into an advertiser's site at a cost of perhaps .15-.25 is very good. For example if you advertise a website prominently in a print publication you should expect perhaps 1/10th to 1/100th that level of performance (1 in 1000 to 1 in 10,000 readers) clicking to the site. I've tested this result using unique URLs and large print ads and the results were…underwhelming. I've seen no study to contradict my own results though I've noted many ad buyers tend to evaluate ad effectiveness in very questionable ways, such as when a $20,000 print campaign results in a few thousand leads and the conclusion is that it was a huge success.

Context ads have redefined the relationship between content and advertising in a positive way for both advertisers and publishers, and until a LOT more money flows from absurdly overpriced offline media to online, and thus starts to close the ROI gap, I think it is unreasonable to expect online ad models to change much, although do see them moving away from PPC and towards pay per action models which make performance measures somewhat more straightforward and PPC fraud almost impossible.
I think many online folks simply have no idea about the incredibly poor performance of offline advertising. My working hypothesis is that most advertising buys have negative ROI but that media companies and sales reps have done a very good job of convincing ad buyers that their advertising is working.

This article suggets that Google's failure to get high bids for print ads was an anomoly.  On the contrary I think this is a glimpse of the future of advertising, which will continue to move online until relative ROIs balance out.

Google selling print failed because print advertising is *dramatically* inferior to online and Google customers know this. Even online campaigns generally have negative ROI, but I suggest that most large, image driven print campaigns have negative ROI unless flimsy methodologies are used to measure ROI.

Few clients measure print effects well if at all, allowing advertising reps and companies to BS their way to keeping TV and print in play which is the main funding source for large media companies.

Based on my observations and experiments with print and online advertising in the travel sector It's an epidemic of irrationality, where few bother to measure ad effectiveness and those few who do measure it, and find print generally fails to deliver positive ROI, simply turn to subjective justifications for continuing failed campaigns.