According to the article, that loss of eyeballs is really starting to hurt some sites. It also points out that some of this has been self-inflicted as well. As ad rates dropped, in a desperate effort to maximize the number of people who paid attention to the ads they’ve gotten more annoying and intrusive, leading more folks to look for ways to block them.
I expect there will be more of that, as that business model goes through it’s final death throes. I also fully expect to see some sites starting to filter traffic that is using ad blocking software more often, before eventually circling back to a paid content model, despite the fact that many failed with that model previously.
I don’t know where it’s going to end up. At the end of the day, there are too many free sources of information to think that many people are going to start paying for general news and information. Clearly there are some niche spots where you might make a go of it, but they are few and far between, plus they rely on you having such a great reputation for content that people will agree to pay for it, which can generally only be gotten by having years of content out there already. It’s not really something you can break in to.
Meanwhile, for those sites relying on ads to keep the lights on, that is getting harder and harder to do. The price you pay to make the ads effective dollars-wise is to annoy the heck out of your users, either causing them to go elsewhere or start blocking your ads. Obviously, if you’ve been paying attention to Facebook’s new proposed rules for using content you load to the site in ads, you can see the dilemma quite clearly. They are a public company, beholden to keeping stockholders happy. Advertising is how they make money, in a depressed advertising market they are having to get more and more obnoxious about how they advertise, and do more things to heighten the interest in ads, drawing attention away from the content that people actually want to see on the service, they make the service less attractive all the way around.
In the end, how do you make a large Internet site financially sound without pushing away the users that made it big in the first place? I suspect over the next few years, lots,of changes are coming in this marketplace. The Internet we have then may not resemble much of what we have now.