Google, Ad Tech, and the Gutting of the News Publishers

So now we have another gutting, this time at the HuffPost, and omertà reigns.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

This kind of thing – news publications with lots of traffic gutting their staff because they’ve been losing tons of money – has been happening for years, and these publishers and the media outlets that report on it are under some kind of omertà, and aren’t talking about what is actually causing the losses that trigger the gutting. So now we have another gutting, this time at the HuffPost, and omertà reigns.

BuzzFeed – which acquired the HuffPost last November from Verizon, which had acquired it as part of its 2015 acquisition of AOL, which had acquired the Huffington Post, as it was called then, in 2011 – announced on Tuesday that it has laid off 45 HuffPost reporters, editors, and producers, and that HuffPost Canada will be shut down entirely. In addition, two executive editors resigned over the deal. So 47 people gone.

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, one of the cofounders of the Huffington Post in 2005, told employees at the virtual meeting where the gutting was announced that HuffPost’s “losses last year exceeded $20 million, and would be similar this year without intervention. Though BuzzFeed is a profitable company, we don’t have the resources to support another two years of losses.”

So some hypothetical math: Let’s assume that these 47 HuffPost employees cost the company on average, benefits and taxes included, $150,000 each a year. This is probably way high since publishers are not known to pay rich salaries and offer huge benefits, but stay with me for a minute. Shedding these 47 employees would then save the company $7 million a year. That leaves another $13 million to cut to reach break-even.

But wait… these people produced news content that generated pageviews that produced revenues from ads, and if you cut these people out, content is going to drop, pageviews are going to drop, revenues are going to drop, and you’re chasing a moving target.

BuzzFeed knew about these losses last year when it did its due diligence before it acquired HuffPost. BuzzFeed itself has undergone waves of layoffs in order to shrink itself to profitability.

Not once did BuzzFeed mention the reasons why the HuffPost lost money last year, and the reasons why BuzzFeed itself had engaged in waves of layoffs of its own people. Omertà.

Other news publications have filed for bankruptcy without ever specifying the real reason for the losses. Big publishers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have gutted their staff without specifying the real reason – the company that is the real reason.

But separately, the bad boy of news publishing, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns the Wall Street Journal among many other publications, officially broke the omertà about the existential issue for publishers: Google’s total dominance in multiple layers at the core and all over internet advertising. And its abuse of power in that arena.

Last year, it was reported that News Corp complained to antitrust authorities in the US and other countries that Google was abusing its power and sucking revenues out of the stream that should be going to publishers. And I see what Google is doing to publishers every day on my own site.

The US Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google in October last year, a decade behind the curve, after much of the damage had already been done.

The New Media Alliance, which advocates for news publishers, repeated some industry data – a bitter but well-known dose of reality for publishers – in its latest missive of February 21, concerning the antitrust lawsuit:

“News publisher ad revenues have plummeted dramatically over the last two decades; between 2005 and 2018, news organizations saw their ad revenue fall by 70 percent. During that same period, Google’s ad revenue increased from approximately $6 billion to $116 billion, and Google’s market capitalization increased from approximately $100 billion to $1 trillion.”

Since the endpoint of this data in 2018, the situation has continued on the same trajectory: Google siphoning out more money that should have gone to publishers, more publishers collapsing, more publishers losing more money and laying off more people, and Google’s advertising revenues rising 26% to $147 billion, and its market cap rising another 40% to $1.4 trillion.

I have seen this for years on my own site: Every year, ad revenues per million Google ads served declined. Via the Google empire, you need to get more and more traffic and serve more and more Google ads, and overall revenues from Google ads might still decline.

Google and the entire industry of “Ad Tech” have inserted themselves in multiple opaque layers between the advertiser (such as Macy’s) and publications (such as WOLF STREET), and extract by now most of the money out of the huge pile that advertisers spend, leaving less and less for publishers.

Before the internet, the advertiser would use an ad agency, and the publisher might also use an ad agency, and each agency might take a cut of 15%. But other than one or two ad agencies, there was nothing between an advertiser and a publisher. The publisher got 70% to 85% of the money the advertiser spent. The publisher controlled the ads. And the advertiser could audit the publisher’s ad placements. There were plenty of games being played in the industry, but there were tools in place to deal with the games. And publishers were able to fund their operations.

Under the Google ad system, everything changed, and publishers no longer control anything. They no longer know what ads are running on their sites, and they don’t know how much they’re going to get paid for those ads, if anything, and they’re at the complete mercy of multiple opaque layers of Ad Tech dominated by Google.

Sure, publishers can make their own private deals with advertisers, and I do too, and those are the best deals for both sides, where both parties know what they’re going to get and the dollars involved. But those deals are not common.

Beyond private deals, publishers can no longer get around Google because Google owns and operates much of the infrastructure of internet advertising, controlling about 90% of search ads, running the largest ad exchange and the largest ad server, dominating the browsers with its Chrome, and dominating mobile devices with its Android operating system. It also owns data centers and a big part of the cloud, where much of the advertising dynamics take place. It also owns fiberoptic cables, and on and on…

The HuffPost is the latest example of a publisher with a big successful site that is getting gutted because it lost $20 million last year, and not a soul pointed at Google as the reason why ad revenues were so low that it lost $20 million. Huffpost and BuzzFeed both are successful online publications with lots of visitors. It’s not that they cannot get readers. But their advertising revenues per ads served aren’t enough.

The regulatory action against Google in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere has focused on other aspects of how Google is abusing its power, not directly related to what Google is doing to publishers via its advertising machinations.

The publishing industry has turned to subscriptions and paywalls to deal with the problem. Subscription revenues at the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and others have risen last year, some of them sharply, and traffic has risen, but ad revenues have plunged.

But publishers like the HuffPost, BuzzFeed, and many others, including WOLF STREET, that want to offer their content to all readers and not block some or all of it behind a paywall, face Google’s machinations all day every day – and for me personally, that’s the most galling part of my work. And you know what? It fits seamlessly into the immense concentration of power at a small number of corporate giants with practically unlimited resources.

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  241 comments for “Google, Ad Tech, and the Gutting of the News Publishers

  1. EJ says:

    Yep, this is one reason why a tech news site I used to write a little for went down.

    YouTube was another. Ad apocalypse aside, The Internet’s collective attention seems to be migrating towards walled off social media silos, which seemingly gives oldschool publications a harder time.

    I’ve seen some rather large sites write on this subject, but such articles, ironically, get drowned out by their own torrent of SEO/clickbait content.

    • drg1234 says:

      YouTube, of course, is owned by Google.

      • w says:

        Get off oppressive censoring techlord sites.Anchor,Rumble,Brandnewtube,odtssee,briteon,GAB,etc. So many alts.

    • raxadian says:

      Os not just news sites, Youtube keeps cuttibg the money it gives yoi for ads in your videos. Even if a Vidro gets watched by a million people what you get is a pitance. More and more content creators in Googlr have to depend on sponsors, donations and selling merch to stay afloat.

      • John says:

        More WolfStreet merch! Could be fun-

        • Saltcreep says:

          What’s needed in terms of merchandise is a seidel that appears to be crumbling at the top edges, with ‘It’s a wolf eat wolf world’ emblazoned around. I’d put my beer into that.

    • Old school says:

      The advertising market is just under $600 billion. Market Cap of alphabet (Google) is $1.4 trillion which is only one of the big players. Too much market cap chasing too few dollars imo.

      • cas127 says:

        Big element of truth here.

        A lot of hopped/hyped up internet investors (those who drive goofy PEs) really don’t understand the true, underlying, established business model of most profitable (and an ocean of unprofitable) internet companies – advertising.

        That’s it – ads, in one form or another.

        So, if you can’t properly size global ad demand, you are going to end up massively overvaluing most internet companies (which rely on ads for their revenue).

        And…since the barriers to entry are so low on the internet…there is an *army* of ad space suppliers (this is not your father’s 3 network TV oligopoly).

        This fact (and the tiny, tiny cost of generating an incremental ad space/web page) means that huge competition has tremendously gutted what publishers can possibly get for their ad space (the common currency of which is the CPM…cost per thousand ads displayed).

        In ye Olde Ad Oligopoly days of very clubby competition, $10 CPMs might be the rule (although ad sellers could wine and dine (and outright bribe) ad buyers into paying a lot more).

        But, now, with 1 million ad serving web sites generating billions of web pages per day…CPMs have been driven down in many cases to as low as 25 to 50 cents – because there is simply not that much demand for ad space, relative to the huge surge in supply.

        So, a site with 20 million page views per yr, might only generate $5k to $10k per yr.

        But I’m not really sure that it is Google’s fault per se…it seems more like an inevitable outcome of the tremendously low barriers to publishing entry that the internet itself allows…which enables an army of publishers to sell into the marketplace.

        Google (via various tools developed and acquired) has come to occupy a central coordinating function in the ad tech universe, but…if they didn’t do it, some one else would…or dozens of someone elses.

        They would…and in the past, they did. And in the present, they still do.

        Google is the big dog…but it isn’t the only dog.

        I really don’t think it is the ad tech middlemen who are somehow stealing huge percentages of revenue that would otherwise go to publishers.

        Instead, I think it is a finite pool of ad demand dollars being hugely subdivided among an inconceivably huge universe of ad sellers…made possible by internet technology itself.

        There are the Facebooks of the world who make 10’s of billions…but they also serve trillions and trillions of ads (not infrequently at 50 cent CPMs).

        • Terry says:

          Thanks for the Google Inc. editorial.

        • cas127 says:

          Terry,

          If you have specific points to counter with, make them.

          That is called a discussion.

        • Rubicon says:

          This is what happens when a nation, overawed by multi-billionaire/trillionaries, become so politically, financially powerful.

          It’s inevitable, that monopolies, such as Google, overextend their power while even well diversified billionaires start to see their great wealth be hampered by Google, ETC.

          Eventually, it all ends up in the hands of a few select hands.
          American capitalism is based upon this kind of sport, but, as more and more wealthy are hurt by these monsters, to save their own wealth, they will have to initiate effective counter measures.

          It will be another chink in the armor of US Imperial’s Over-reach.
          Add to this rising problem, the US Hegemony is now facing the staggering economy of China that nearly surpassing the US “economy.” A more serious chink is revealed.
          Just another telltale sign revealing how this Hegemon will, like all the others fade into a distant past.

    • NBay says:

      The only thing I can think of better than a super efficient computerized/highly automatic outfit controlling/owning a monstrous share of a service most every business uses, is for that service to also be a complete tax write off.
      One big win for building needless human consumption (where it’s still possible, of course), and another big loss towards wrecking a valuable planet.
      Good thing that’s only from the human point of view.
      Blessed are the cockroaches, made in the image of whatever is their chosen diety.

      • NBay says:

        Roaches have no choice but to mindlessly consume, the fact advertising exists, proves we DO have that choice.

    • K says:

      Alphabet, and thereby Google, et al., is reportedly owned as follows:

      Top shareholders are Vanguard with a 6.4% share on equity, followed by Google’s founders Larry Page (5.7%) and Sergey Brin (5.5%). However, thanks to “super-voting” stocks, Larry and Sergey have 51% of all votes. Therefore they have control over Alphabet Inc.
      List of all Alphabet shareholders with more than 5% share on any stock class (December 2018)
      Shareholders Share on Alphabet’s Equity Share on All Votes
      Vanguard 6.4% 2.9%
      Larry Page 5.7% 26.1%
      Sergey Brin 5.5% 25.1%
      BlackRock 5.5% 2.5%
      Fidelity 3.7% 2.1%
      Eric Schmidt 1.2% 5.4%
      END QUOTE from Kamil Franek’s website, which I do not endorse by the way, since I look at many, many websites and cannot endorse all views in them.

      However, the ultra rich love to evade disclosure of their wealth while getting their wishes fulfilled: read “The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve” about their most powerful tool’s creation, which is their “Federal” Reserve, which they own by owning the private banks that own its district banks. Thus, they often deliberately put a lot of assets in other persons’ names.

      Some are made the “legal” owners by signing covert, trust agreements enforceable in foreign countries. Other figureheads can just be compelled to sign demand, promissory notes, so there is no paper trail showing the true owner: e.g., they are given shares worth $200 billion in company X but they sign demand promissory notes for $400 billion with contracts making them enforceable without court action against the shares, which promissory notes keep getting increased periodically on demand as the company X stock goes up.

      Forbes Magazine reported that 15 billionaires owned all US media long ago. Whether it is 15 or 30 billionaires, or trillionaires as I understand, they represent a clear and present danger to democracy and the financial well being of all, ordinary Americans. Watch “The Spider’s Web: Britain’s Second Empire (2017.)”

      They can and have controlled US media: e.g., get Americans to to forget the massive thefts of capital from US taxpayers after the 2008 financial disaster to the present, which occurred only after they had been selling trillions in GROSSLY overvalued, often uncollectible, “sub-prime” mortgage backed to pension funds, unions, and other “dumb” money for years using manipulated credit ratings that claimed those bonds deserved AAA ratings. Get America to invade any country that they wish, such as Iraq.

      Dissenting voices are going to keep getting silenced. Like the CCP’s reported closure of the benevolent, Shanghai lab that released the Covid virus’s DNA sequence to the world against its express orders, American media outlets and even commenters (e.g., in Youtube) who disagree with the line of lies that benefits the ultra-rich in control of Google and Alphabet, Facebook, etc., will suffer. Any opponents will get slowly crushed or driven out of business. See e.g., “China Has One Powerful Friend Left in the U.S.: Wall Street” in the Wall Street Journal. See the billionaires’ report “China Censors Viral Boast of Influence Over Wall Street …” in Bloomberg. See “Wall Street, China May Have Influenced NYSE Reversal on Chinese Telecoms” in voice of America. See “Political Donors Linked to China Won Access to Trump, GOP” in the billionaires’ Bloomberg. See “Beijing and Wall Street deepen ties despite geopolitical rivalry” in the Financial Times.

  2. Jon says:

    I use brave browser and duckduckgo search engine
    I won’t go down without giving a fight

    I avoid Amazon usually for the same reason
    No fb or Twitter account

    • Shawn says:

      Yes me to. Brave, based on the open source Chromium browser, just like Google Chrome and Opera is awesome. All ads and trackers are shut down automatically. So I don’t see any ads whatsoever.

      But I do buy, with $$, Brave Rewards so I can contribute to the sites I want to and you can also configure it to do automatic monthly contributions. However, the website has to sign up to receive these Brave Rewards.

      • Turtle says:

        That’s such an encouraging concept but they’ve really got to accept more than crypto for it to go mainstream. Tipping has to be easy for the masses. Publishers won’t earn enough otherwise.

      • roddy6667 says:

        I use Vivaldi, which is also based on the open source Chromium browser.

      • Kaz Augustin says:

        Albeit from last year:
        https://www.kevinmuldoon.com/do-not-use-brave-browser/
        Don’t know if they’ve straightened out but, for the same reason, I don’t use any Canonical software, not since the Amazon debacle. If a company can do the dirty once, they can do it again.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Shawn,

        Brave may be a decent browser. But it blocks the publishers’ ads, and thereby it hurts the publishers.

        If the publisher signs up for its program, Brace runs its OWN ads on the publisher’s site that runs in Brave and makes money in USD off the publisher’s site, and then pays a micro-portion of it in ridiculous crypto tokens to the publisher.

        Thereby, Brave is scamming the publisher and making money off it.

        I will NEVER EVER sign up for Brave’s scam.

    • CRV says:

      I stopped using duckduckgo and switched to startpage.com. That has no tracking whatsoever. It is based in The Netherlands and therefore has not to answer to US laws like the patriot act and PRISM.
      Read the wiki on it and see for yourself.

      • bob down says:

        Startpage was acquired by System1, a targeted advertising company

        • Turtle says:

          Startpage was slow for me. Them being acquired was the last straw. Qwant is interesting too but I always end up back on DuckDuckGo with the occasional !g bang when I feel like Google is necessary to get what I’m looking for.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Can’t let these browsers run around loose ?

        • NBay says:

          Har har…perfect timing and the straight men kept on going……

      • Nat says:

        Last I knew though start page (while tracking free and high privacy) still buys its search results from google. So sue you get maximum privacy but you are still feeding the beast. With duckduckgo you are actually starving the beast and strengthening a true competitor even though it isn’t 100% as private as start page.

        • Robert says:

          @Nat

          You’re right about Startpage.

          Problem is that many of the ways your privacy is protected will also block ads and starve the sites you are interested in supporting.

          You can also use DNS over https with Firefox to help prevent your ISP from tracking what sites you visit. This method is not foolproof, but it makes it more difficult for them to track you. You can also protect your privacy by using a VPN. But of course your VPN will know your browsing history. Many VPNs have highly sketchy ownership.

          So basically go to a coffees shop and surf there if you want privacy.

      • K says:

        I love that you think that anywhere in the Western World is removed from the influence of the various (15) billionaires who Forbes Magazine reported control US media, and some also Alphabet, Google, Facebook, etc. Reportedly, more of the trillionaires live in the EU (and Thailand) than the USA.

    • Stonedwino says:

      @Jon ditto. Have been suing duck duck go for years. I do not use google even on my iPhone. Avoid Amazon when I can. Abandoned FB, but do have a Twiiter account active…

      • Turtle says:

        DDG really has gotten good, hasn’t it? I feel like it’s 90% as useful as Google search.

        Twitter fairly easy to say good-bye to but Facebook… oh my. I so want to leave it but it’s where my market is so I still use it for businesses. Twitter was useless for everything. What a joke of a network they were and even more so from what I’m seeing in the news.

        • jon says:

          DDG is not as good as google but if and when I need google, i use google.
          DDG is my default and google is when I am forced to.

          I use Brave everywhere and DDG is my default SE

    • Ralph Hiesey says:

      Great, I really admire you three guys who are the gnats fighting the elephant by not using Google.

      But for god’s sake if there were ever a case for government to exert power against monopolies this is the CLASSIC example which has been staring us in the face for two decades. With NO action so far.

      Modern legal theory about monopolies is that only way a government can touch a monopoly is “does it affect the cost to the consumer?” Hey, users of Google get free access to free stuff, how is that hurting the consumer? If it hurts the journalism in the USA– I guess that doesn’t matter. Lots of free stuff–makes it hard to do anything.

      Will the Republicans continue to take the do nothing role of “grim reaper” of legislative action? Will the Democrats be willing to threaten a likely major donor? Only if it affects their ability to get votes. I don’t doubt Google/Facebook can tilt their algorithms to affect how voters vote.`

      • SpencerG says:

        In getting my MBA in the 90s the way that Anti-Trust was explained was that you couldn’t use one monopoly to create another. The fact that you have a monopoly isn’t what creates the legal problem… you could have gotten the monopoly the old fashioned way… by earning it. It is by leveraging that monopoly into a different area of business that becomes an anti-trust violation.

        That was what got Microsoft in trouble with its Internet Explorer web browser. As Jim Barksdale of Netscape so ably showed in a famous congressional hearing, Microsoft already had a monopoly in operating systems. And as much as Bill Gates and his computer engineers wanted to insist that IE was just an outgrowth of that OS, the fact is that Microsoft would dominate the internet if not stopped (or curtailed) by anti-trust regulators.

        Frankly you have to credit the Europeans with being more diligent in curtailing anti-trust violations than the American regulators over the past two decades. They take a more holistic look at these issues than simply what is “good for consumers.”

        • Rowen says:

          Yup. A monopoly is not illegal per se. The attempt to monopolize however is.

          Way back when, the Feds used to say that any merger that increased horizontal concentration or vertical integration, however insignificant, was disallowed, but then Bork et al came up with the “consumer welfare” model, and that was that.

        • NBay says:

          “This country was founded on the principle that one corporation couldn’t hog all the slaves, leaving all the rest of us [corporations] to wallow in poverty” -Eric Cartman

      • Nat says:

        No I totally agree. I use DuckDuckGo (and formerly used startpage), but realistically the government (perhaps even multiple governments in tandem world-wide) absolutely need to break up things like Google, and probably Amazon too among others. No amount of small users fleeing to smaller competitors will be able to roll this problem back now that it has gone this far, major intervention is now required.

        • Ethan in NoVA says:

          In the days of AT&T’s monopoly it was allowed to persist for a long time due to AT&T’s willingness to help government agencies listen in to the people. (Source, the book Exploding the Phone.)

          And with Amazon I give you AWS GovCloud.

      • Javert Chip says:

        Ralph Hiesey

        “…if there were ever a case for government to exert power against monopolies…’

        Yup, I strongly agree; however as big & concentrated as GOOGLE is, it’s “campaign contributions” are huge.

        Big government is here to serve big government, not citizens. 90% of so-called Covid relief funds went to big government (pension plans, etc).

        $1.9Trillion dollars divided by 170Million wage earners is $11,1000/person; however, a lot of people think most of the Covid stimulus ($1,400 checks) actually goes to the people.

      • cas127 says:

        Ralph,

        The switching cost from Google is so insanely tiny (typing a different word, once…with autofill) it is pretty hard to make out Google as an inescapable oppressor for search consumers.

        As for ad publishers…I think it is less ad tech middlemen who are gutting them, than the huge increase in ad suppliers/ultra low cost incremental ad pages that the internet itself makes possible.

        (See post above).

      • Ross says:

        I don’t think it would take much legal maneuvering to define for antitrust purposes “consumer” as Internet publishers and “cost” as the slice of ad revenue taken by Google. So the main obstacle is political will.

        • cas127 says:

          Hmm…what exactly do the publishers “pay” Google?

          Consumers pay with their attention/eyeballs/clicks.

          And before you say that publishers pay with their articles…

          1) Publishers make money every time Google directs a consumer to *them* (just not as much as publishers want…because Google is willing to do the same for a million other publishers too…driving CPM ad rates down…but that is because of the million other publishers, not Google. And,

          2) If publishers wanted to,

          a) they are freely ability to block Google’s search agents and

          b) they are freely able to block Google sourced readers.

          But the publishers don’t because 1000 Google sourced readers at $1 CPM is $1 in revenue while 10 organically sourced readers at a $10 CPM is 10 cents in revenue.

          Google really isn’t selling “stolen” news…it is selling coordination of ad sales to a gigantic audience it has created.

        • EdYooper says:

          Google did not “create” that audience, did it? It just made a really good phone book that works on somewhat opaque algorithms.

          The audience mainly was there before Google. It got rerouted, though, yes, by Google’s new, convenient directory.

      • Ralph Hiesey says:

        Yes, to Rowan, of course you are right that monopolies are not in themselves illegal. It is the “misuse” of monopoly–such as eliminating your potential competitors–for example by buying them with the purpose of eliminating them as competitors. Which is what Google and Facebook both seem to have done. And Microsoft before that. A great scam for small guys was to invent something that does something as good or better that with something that could compete with the big guys–then hope they will come in and buy you out for a handsome sum so you can retire before doing the hard work of getting lots more customers.

        Also, to Spencer–since you got your MBA in the 90’s I know there was a campaign at that time (or maybe before) by some (such as Bork) to narrow the definition of monopoly ”misuse” very narrowly only to be defined only as harming consumers–with no regard for others that could be harmed.

        My understanding is that would not apply to, say arranging your business to make it able to monopolize the advertising business to make it impossible for a journalist to benefit from advertising revenue from anyone but the alleged monopolist. The journalists are not customers. And the “monopolist” in this case is making it cheaper for customers to access the journalist’s effort. So does that mean you’re home free, Google ??

        That’s my understanding. But I’m no legal expert.

    • bb says:

      Tor should be ysed as it values humanity,diverse opinions,and security.

    • Bobber says:

      What is your view on Firefox?

      • California Bob says:

        I’ve used it exclusively–except when I had to test pages for compatibility–for many years. Privacy settings are pretty robust and configurable, and it’s as fast as any. I throw a few shekels at Mozilla now-and-then.

        • California Bob says:

          I’ve also used Thunderbird email client for years (now part of Mozilla as well). It’s improved incrementally over the years and has the absolute best feature: It’s not MS Exchange.

      • EJ says:

        Firefox is very snappy on desktops/laptops. The WebRender backend is really good. And its more privacy friendly by design.

        I recommend Bromite on Android though. Its just much faster than FF there.

    • timbers says:

      Brave browser guy here, too. And DD go.

    • ross says:

      Amazingly, Gaggle still has 90% of the search clicks. Did I say amazing, I meant depressing. I too use Brave and DDG. Feeding the beast I will not if possible. Yes, no social media platforms and AMZ avoided if at all possible.

    • Saltcreep says:

      Good on yer, Jon! The only account I’ve ever had on any social media is on LinkedIn, which I sorely regret. That was only because my business partner thought it would be a good idea, for which I’ve eternally cursed him, without it yet noticeably affecting him.

      And I had an Amazon account when it was a modest online book merchant. I would not use them today if the alternative were to toast my genitals over hot embers. And I dread the likely terrible rework of Lord of the Rings they’re probably butchering beyond recognition as we type, for which I will also likely curse them freely unto eternity even if I happily never see it.

    • RagnarD says:

      metager (Ger = German, but works good for english) seems a much better search engine than duckduckgo, supposedly they are good on privacy. Seems Bing oriented but doesn’t suck like Bing.
      Odd

  3. Petunia says:

    I hear Youtubers complain all the time they are getting demonetized, yet google still uses their content. I don’t understand why these content providers don’t join the unions that already exist to represent them. These content creators are acting, writing, filming, etc., all activities covered by unions. Google using their content for free is theft of services, which I believe is a crime everywhere.

    Don’t see that it is any different for the news publishers. Also a highly unionized industry.

    • Mikey says:

      Thought control is more important then profits so those creators have no leverage.

    • roddy6667 says:

      After seven years in China, where ALL THINGS GOOGLE are blocked, I have come to use Yandex, the Russian search engine. It will turn up stuff that Google does want you to see.

      • Sea Creature says:

        Yes, I have done that too, yandex is actually very good and you can always find any ‘double badthink’ items there that the Goog otherwise thinks you shouldn’t..

        • Ross says:

          I’ve tried it, but I didn’t really see a difference.

        • RagnarD says:

          Metager seems pretty good. But I must say post Nov 3, all search engines are better / less censored than they were pre Nov 3. Or
          maybe Just my imagination??? I thinking not.

    • Old school says:

      Makes me think providing digital content might be ready for a wash out. Maybe too many people proving marginal content to be a viable business. Eventually if you are doing something that is not panning out money-wise you move on to something else.

    • lenert says:

      Here you go: “TikTok stars and other social media influencers can now join the union that represents Hollywood’s biggest names” – Annabelle Williams, Feb 11, Business Insider.

    • cas127 says:

      Petunia,

      Pretty sure you can always pull your content from Youtube (for demonetization or anything – subject to any contract you agreed to).

      Ditto Google…you can block its search agents.

      What creators/publishers are *really* complaining about is that they want access to the huge audience that Google/Youtube provides…but they don’t want to pay the cost that Google demands.

      That really isn’t theft.

      You can try to make out a case for monopoly but tiny consumer switching costs makes that pretty hard too.

      • Petunia says:

        As far as I know, google doesn’t charge for posting content, it just controls who gets paid by agreeing to post ads on their content. If someone is posting for ad revenue, they should get revenue or their content should not be used. Some posters don’t want the ad revenue and that’s fine. But those that create for revenue should get paid per view.

        The cost of hosting the content is paid for by advertisers and investors. The creators have costs as well, cameras and time are not free to them. The viewers also have costs, their time is spent watching ads to support creators they like. Using content without payment is just like stealing someone’s labor, some people think that’s theft, some think it’s slavery.

        • cas127 says:

          Petunia,

          You didn’t address my point.

          Anybody is free to take down their Youtube video.

          And anybody can block Google search agents/Google referred traffic.

          So I don’t see the theft/slavery angle.

          But creators are unhappy about the aggressive/lopsided/whatever revenue split that Google insists upon before now providing access to the massive audience that Google has created/aggregated/coordinates.

          Again, the case might be better posed as monopoly (of audience access) but the switching cost to another search engine/direct site access (a few keystrokes) is so trivial to users that such a case is unlikely to prevail.

          I don’t think the problem is that Google is stealing anything, it is that a million web sites are now offering ad space (or Facebook is offering a million ad slots).

          And that ocean of new ad space supply, in the face of finite ad space demand, has driven the price of ads (their CPM) down to 5% or 10% of what it was when only 3 networks and the NYT told us what to think/gated our access to information.

        • Petunia says:

          Cas,

          I would certainly encourage anybody who gets demonetized to use their own platform and not use google. The cost you allude to that google demands, seems to be arbitrary demonetization. Since google is not deleting the content in many demonetization cases, they are stealing the content every time it is viewed and not compensated. It is not that hard to figure it out.

        • EdYooper says:

          Once again, the word “create” is totally wrong. Aggregate is much more accurate.

      • RagnarD says:

        This is a sideshow. Main point is the Google etal are hiding behind Section 230 which classifies them as platforms not publishers. Yet they hardcore censor (censorship per Matt Taibbi likely initiated by deep state govt helpers) the right/pro Trump.

        Second main point is we live in a $$ dominated deep state world and if you haven’t figured that out by now, you need to do some more “googling” of things like Lin Wood Interrogation of James Clapper” and get up to speed. James Clapper director of NSA.

        BTW, cut to the chase, the .pdf transcript matches verbatim the voice of Clapper on the videos.

    • Frank says:

      Petunia, the saying goes that if your business is based on somebody else’s platform, you don’t have a business. You are utterly subservient to that platforms rules regulations, whims monetization, demonetization that they deem worthy of your content. You are completely at their mercy.

  4. MonkeyBusiness says:

    I still use Google, but I would say I am using Bing more, not because it’s better but the things that I look for tend to be quite trivial. I have already curated my own news sources, so I don’t even go through Google to look for news.

    I use an ad blocker but I also white list sites that I support. Youtube is not one of those :)

    • EJ says:

      A search engine/browser competitive with Google would be a massive undertaking. Even Microsoft and Mozilla are struggling, and they have a huge head start.

      If you really want to break from YouTube (while still using it), check out Invidious. Its a clean, open source front end for YT. There are similar projects for Twitter, Instagram and others, as well as browser extensions for auto redirecting.

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        “A search engine/browser competitive with Google would be a massive undertaking.” Not sure about that. Google used to be pretty neutral on alternative sites, but nowadays they won’t even return a lot of things coming from NakedCapitalism for example. It’s not Google’s place to filter out content. We should be the final arbiter.

        • rhodium says:

          Yeah, I’ve noticed it’s quite a bit worse. It’s harder to find those dusty gems on the internet now no matter how you manipulate the word choice in your searches, because they very obviously heavily weight mainstream clouty type sources for anything. I know there are thousands of incredible blog posts and articles out there on various topics, but good luck getting past all the bot written hyper generic news, advice, and corporate dominated advertising nightmare sites that are highly favored by google. It probably mostly revolves around money, but at the same time, unless you’re determined, most people aren’t going to be exposed to alternative viewpoints (not talking about straight up fake news), and so google is doing a very good job at helping guide people’s opinions by limiting the information they are exposed to. It was a shitshow anyway though. Few people prefer to burden their minds with knowledge as it is.

        • Petunia says:

          Google admits they filter out content, but what they don’t admit is they have a physical limit on how many sites they can search through. It is in their interest to filter out sites that don’t get much traffic in favor of those that do generate traffic. This keeps their advertising revenue as high as possible.

        • Rowen says:

          the funniest thing is when you type a website in the address bar, but instead of bringing you to the site, it pulls up the google results with the top 5 results being sponsored ads that simply consists of the top-level domain name.

        • EJ says:

          I mean technically difficult.

          Building a browser or search engine is doable. Building a fast, good, competitive one from scratch is nearly impossible, even with a bottomless money bag.

        • MonkeyBusiness says:

          EJ, not sure how old you are. But back in the day, there’s this company called Yahoo. Google was just an upstart back then while Yahoo was already a behemoth. Sergei and Larry were so confident in their technology, they shopped it around for a cool price of 1 million dollars. This is all part of Internet lore by the way.

          My point is, yeah, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s not impossible either. The raw materials for a search engine i.e. the Internet is out there for anyone to use. Heck I would argue it’s harder back then to create a search engine. Tech similar to the Google File System weren’t available back then and of course scalable Map Reduce was in its infancy.

          Nowadays you can go to AWS and spin up a couple of servers and voila, you have the beginnings of a search engine.

    • SpencerG says:

      I find Google to be getting really spotty in its search results as time goes on. Sadly so are the rest of the search engines. Bill Gates identified the problem by calling the results a “treasure hunt” way back in the mid-2000s. But he didn’t fix the problem.

      My theory is that when Google was founded the internet was so new that it could index everything and return appropriate results pretty easily. Here we are two decades later and the internet is much bigger and the TIME horizon is not four or five years but an entire quarter century. For whatever reason Google’s results tend to deliver the LATEST rendition when in fact I may be looking for information (that I know exists because I have seen it before) from the past. It seems to me that Google needs an easy-to-access filter for time frames to run its searches on.

      • Petunia says:

        See my comment above about google search constraints. They have the ability to segregate content by time frame, but that would entail creating separate indices and databases for those time frames. This would take more equipment and real estate and therefore more expense and less profit.

  5. Steve says:

    Do you know whether Google is a taking an ever larger slice of the payment or if the advertisers are paying less as well?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Advertisers are paying more. My share has shrunk every year on a per-ad basis.

      I actually don’t use Google that much. But my ad agencies use Google ads for at least some of their fills, and they use Google ad exchanges and the Google infrastructure. Even if you try to avoid Google, you cannot.

      • Chris Coles says:

        “Even if you try to avoid Google, you cannot.”

        Why not turn back the page and return to the original method of publishing; a printing press? All you need to do is combine, say, every months editions into a regular issue, dedicated to gaining an income from selling printed paper. The news paper sellers still exist, as also the paper distributions channels. In the past that system was profitable enough to carry the entire publishing industry, into long term success pre-internet; so why not turn back the page and start again?

        • w says:

          Smarter people Will eventually jump on that idea as Ive wondered whats taking everyone so long.No electromagnetism,no surveilance,no tracking.Diversity of well-researched articles,creative content,and reader input=good reading.

        • Javert Chip says:

          Chris Coles

          Wolf is probably going to have a problem getting the “printed paper” to me here in Florida (or wherever I’m at in the world now that travel is about to start back up).

          That’s why I put $100 (actually, $99,99 so Wolf doesn’t have to send me another beer mug – I already have 2) in the tip jar every quarter.

        • Petunia says:

          I still buy real books because digital books are already being censored online. I knew they would be. I can also take the book anywhere and read it anytime, no digital minimum requirements necessary.

        • Mike says:

          Exactly. My business caters to seniors, and the paper paper and other print publications work the best. I love magazines, the newspaper and anything I can hold. Hard to get your arms around the Internet. So yeah, turn back the page and start again works for me.

      • Gandalf says:

        Wolf,
        In Australia, a new law has been passed requiring internet companies to pay for any news content that they display, Google, Facebook, etc.
        Google after threatening to pull out from Australia, finally agreed to pay for content. Facebook resisted, deciding to blank out all new content on their Australia websites instead.
        The Murdoch media empire’s much greater power in Australia seems to have been the driving force behind this law.

  6. Avraam Jack Dectis says:

    .
    Gee Willikers Batman!

    Publishers and Advertisers band together and start their own Ad Syndicate. First problem solved.

    Ad Syndicate starts its own search engine and browser. Second and third problem solved.

    Do you think those Silicon Valley dweebs are super brilliant visionaries?

    They were just lucky.

    Such whining …..
    .

  7. Michael Grace says:

    Well, there are many pseudo journalists and photographers now and these professions are almost dead. The amount of words and images has proliferated. Unfortunately the quality has collapsed or is obscured.

    • NARmageddon says:

      The average quality is low. The good quality stuff is obscured. If you want quality news coverage, selective use of twitter is the best way to go. Follow real journalists and good citizens like like @MaxBlumenthal @Snowden @TulsiGabbard @caitoz @ggreenwald @mtaibbi @wikileaks @TheGrayzoneNews @BenjaminNorton @noamchomskyT. These are real eye-openers when it comes to understanding the world we live in, and the role the US plays in it. Warning: The truth is not for the faint of heart.

      • These are all people who get their information off Google?

        • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

          Tulsi Gabbard and Noam Chomsky in the same sentence?

          You can’t possibly be serious.

        • MonkeyBusiness says:

          Noah Chomsky is older than Google. He knows how to do real research. “Manufacturing Consent” came out in the 1980s.

          Snowden worked at the NSA, so I guess in a sense, you are right i.e. the NSA gets their data off Google :)

        • NARmageddon says:

          No, these people do real journalism. Just as an example, @WikiLeaks is quite famous for having inside sources, are they not?

      • Wisdom Seeker says:

        @Narmageddon – I like your idea but Twitter also censors viewpoints it does not like. The basic idea is good but it helps to scour multiple sites to identify journalists you want to follow. Then follow them through their own preferred channels, rather than Twitter. e.g. Substack for Taibbi and Greenwald.

        BTW, I believe massive bias in the news was also quite common in the late 1800s-early 1900s. It may be that the 1950s-1980s era was the exception rather than the norm?

        • NARmageddon says:

          Substack for Taibbi and Greenwald is top notch, but you follow them in twitter first and that will provide the links to substack. That’s how I do it.

          >>1950s-1980s era was the exception rather than the norm?

          LOL. The US news has always been chock full of propaganda. It’s just that people were unaware.

          For sure, twitter has deplatformed a lot of people, but there are also many good sources remaining. Twitter is still much more useful than gab (parler I still cannot get access to , web nor app).

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Don’t know where you get the idea that news wasn’t very politicized in the 50-80s ws??
          Friend of dad owned the local mackerel wrapper, and finally told dad he better shut up with his praise of Fidel, after he took over, who dad thought was very much better for the Cuban people who dad loved, than Batista who was a puppet of the mob… Or else dad was gonna ”get it”…
          The various and sundry national news folks were different only in that, up to the VN war, they were almost always totally supportive of the guv mint right on through Korea, etc. But that war really did change things.
          Luce was an arch conservative, so Time and Life reflected his POV and opinions consistently in all their reporting.
          Etc.
          The only other significant difference I can remember was that there were far fewer openly left wing pubs out there, excepting the voice of the communist party of USA of course.
          IMHO, Nar is correct.

        • NBay says:

          I had a lefty Ramparts subscription, (started reading a friends father’s in HS and had my own early 70’s), and actually got the one they had to pull/stop mailing completely, because it showed how to make a box that would make a phone connection/conversation look like I had a busy signal to the phone company’ electronics….it worked….free long distance.

        • NBay says:

          OOPS!

          I meant it looked to them like my own phone was just ringing….had to pay to set up the call timing, but less than a minute…the minimum. Lasted for a week or so, IIRC.

          Also had fun when Paul Neuman got pissed at phone company and posted his credit card number in LA Times….that “went viral” through the colleges FAST, and I got some long distance in for a few hours, on that, too.

          Phone companies have always been hated.

        • NBay says:

          Actually, I can’t remember if it looked to the phone company like it was ringing or busy….senility…..anyway, it worked.

      • ross says:

        LSD?

  8. cb says:

    A society that wishes to be free must be constantly vigilant against concentrated wealth and power. Instead, the USA has been bought by corporations and their lobbyists.

  9. porque says:

    Thanks for your site Wolf, and insights.

    Zero regulation. I graduated college in Dec 2001, career day was on 9/11.

    SEC was there, not only was it a shell of an experience for everyone, but the SEC recruiters also were in a shell of a position. They literally were only there as informative, no positions to fill. The administration had essentially cut all funding. Living relics of an old institution.

    Then enron happened. Then the mortgage crises happened.

    This was quantitative easing 0.1, if you will.

    There will not be any unwinding of any of this, unless it’s forced, a la the great depression.

    This is the world we live in. Guard rails, be damned.

    • SpencerG says:

      I suspect the no positions to fill was due to the Fiscal Year ending on September 30th. I just finished a job with the Federal Government as a Recruiting Manager and this happens every year in Late August and September. Without a budget approved by Congress and signed by the President, hiring comes to a stop because the agency doesn’t know what positions it will be allowed to fill… or when. It can take a while to get the spigots turned back on.

      • porque says:

        Nah, this was intentional.

        And then thereafter, the only substantial case they bring is against martha stewart.

        But, repeal of glass stegal, probably can be known as QE 0.1.

        Abolition of any and all regulation 0.2

    • NBay says:

      Obviously everyone who wants $20M+++, isn’t quite there yet……

  10. WES says:

    Seems like Australia buckled.

  11. Gerry says:

    Dealing just with YouTube, how can anyone not notice that Google is falsifying the number of views on uploaded videos to increase ad income? When newspapers and magazines had a major share of ad income, there was oversight from organizations like the Audit Bureau of Circulation (Ithink that was the name) to make sure the number of subscribers and newsstand buyers compiled by a publisher were accurate. Who checks on YouTube’s numbers? I get the impression that up to half the views on YouTube could be algorithm-generated, bots. The creators of these videos usually get just a small fraction of the ad income, the majority going to Google. To make the view count look good, you have some YouTube videos getting a ton of up-votes. Checking the commentor’s information is useless since YouTube doesn’t indicate when someone joined Google. Most have no subscriber history and no subscriptions. For sure, no one has done any outside audit of YouTube views. So ad buyers could be paying for ad clicks generated by YouTube bots, not real potential customers.

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      It’s definitely suspicious that Google has bought a bunch of ad fraud tech firms like spider.io.

      Google hires pretty much every Machine Learning PhDs out there, so they can always just build their own ad fraud tech, but no, not when it comes to ad fraud tech. Smells like hush money to me, but what do I know eh.

    • otishertz says:

      There was news a couple of years ago how facebook was claiming more users in many demographic areas than actually existed. Nobody really called them out on it. It was mentioned here though.

      Truth is these tech plutocrats are simply another arm of the government. Maybe it would be more apt to call them a hidden hand but their censorship of political and scientific is so incredibly overt and in your face that there is nothing hidden about it.

      It does not serve their interest or that of our current power structure for there to be a diversity of thought or a diversity of news sources.

      The paucity of information, its poor quality, and searchability, currently on the internet is a function of tech companies exercising censorship and financial subjugation through their ad serving monopolies.

  12. Fluxite says:

    Google announced today to its YouTube developers that ~ ALL worldwide developers will now have to file USA taxes.

    Hope the Queen doesn’t have a YouTube Channel !

  13. MCH says:

    Repeat after me: Google is NOT evil, it’s their mantra, don’t be evil. The fact that they and Facebook are some of the most evil companies in existence is beside the point. (Don’t forget that Twitter is the most destructive)

    But remember, this is disruption has other benefits for people in general, such as broad personalization, you get to see what you like to see. (Or put it another way, you get to see what Google expects that you like to see). Everyone can be categorized and binned into neat little buckets… it’s very tidy.

    And if Google and Facebook happens to disrupt the flow of ad dollars, it’s a small price (and mostly invisible price to the general public) to pay to be socially connected and information of the world available at your finger tips.

    ?

    • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

      Alphabet is the parent company of Google. They did away with the do no evil a few years ago.

    • roddy6667 says:

      Google “How the CIA made Google”.

    • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

      “…every day is better than the day before it, if i see a raincloud, well, i just ignore it…” – al stewart’s ‘when lindy comes to town’.

      “…self-deception is the root of all evil…” – r.a. heinlein

      may we all find a better day.

  14. JGP says:

    “Money that should have gone to publishers”. Why? Because of their integrity?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      JGP,

      Sheesh. Because we provide the content. Without publishers, there is no content for advertisers to advertise on. Get it?

      • CRV says:

        Isn’t hat the sad result? No independent content-makers.
        If there is nobody able to earn a living by creating content, how will Google survive then? Would Google start to invest in creating content? That’s not it’s business model.
        At first Google seamed to be synergistic to publishers and other content creators, providing an income with less hassle then before. But it evolved into this big parasitic entity that is well on it’s way to kill it’s host’s.
        In the end there will be no marketable content, because Google can’t force others to make it.
        I think it is a long process to come to an equilibrium where both sides benefit of what each has to offer. At this moment Google is a leach. If you don’t like what it is doing, remove it.

        • Mikey says:

          AI generated propaganda and music will satisfy most people. Max Headroom

        • Wolf Richter says:

          What is endangered here is free and open content. More and more content will disappear behind paywalls — this has already been happening for years now. And people who seek free content from multiple sources will bounce from paywall to paywall and not get anywhere.

        • Artem says:

          There’s no such thing free and open content. It’s advertiser-sponsored content, and/or subscription-dependent content.

      • Lisa_Hooker says:

        It is not just your content Wolf. It is your integrity that makes your content so valuable.

  15. Artem says:

    If the internet was never invented, the author would have blamed Huffpost failure on ad agencies.

    Sometimes bad content is just bad content. Google has plenty of shady practices and games, but isn’t that what publishing is all about?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Artem,

      You might not like what they do. And I’m with you on that. But it doesn’t matter what you and I think about HuffPost’s content. We’re not the judge. Traffic is the judge. And HuffPost has massive traffic.

      • JoAnn Leichliter says:

        Is it really as massive now as it was, say, a year ago? Seriously, I want to know.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          The data I can get easily is six-month data. HuffPost’s rankings amid global websites of all kinds has ticked up over those six months. In the US, it is in 232nd place. By comparison, Zero Hedge is in 494th place in the US. The ranking includes every site out there, ecommerce sites like Amazon, search sites like Google and Bing, sites like Yahoo, Facebook, Netflix, Macy’s, etc.

      • Artem says:

        Wolf,
        Maybe the typical Huffpost reader is immune to ads, or isn’t worth the ad spend?

      • Bobby Bittman says:

        I suspect that management surmised that Huffs best traffic days are behind them. With the White House, senate and congress in the right hands, all is well with the world. Except for the bad way the royals are treating poor Meghan of course. Ratings will be down for all rage hustling media outlets this year.

  16. Trinacria says:

    Thanks for putting out this information. I even love your use of the word “omerta` (that’s the closest I could come to putting an accent on the “a” as I can’t figure out how to do it properly on my keyboard).
    Wolf, I now consider you and honorary Sicilian ! In case you did not know, Trinacria is the earliest known name (of greek origin) for the island of Sicily …the land of my birth. Cheers and salute !!!

    • Trinacria says:

      Oh, forgot to mention, loved your interview with Kerry Lutz.
      Wonderful and informative !

      • p coyle says:

        get ahold of an ASCII chart to make accents. sadly, it requires a number pad, which my crappy laptop lacks. that a with ` is alt+133 i believe.

  17. Shawn says:

    Consider signing up for Brave Rewards so I can ‘tip’ every time I see an article I like.

  18. DebtWazoo says:

    … and you probably voted for the presidential candidate who got so much campaign assistance from Google and the rest of the Tech Giants.

    You got what you voted for.

    The whole media complex is getting exactly what it deserves.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      DebtWazoo,

      Did you have too much meth and then microwaved your brain this evening???

      Without media there would be no ads because you can’t stick ads into a vacuum.

      And you’re encouraged to keep that this braindead political garbage to yourself while you’re here.

      • Turtle says:

        Maybe you should add a one-click tip button to your own comments. This one was worth $5 or $6 before the first sentence ended.

        • doug says:

          Don’t you know it would work. Yes it was worth that. I always enjoy Wolf’s straight talk corrections to nonsense…

        • SpencerG says:

          LOL… I agree. Instead of a thumbs up button for comments, Wolf should install a series of buttons for a nickel, quarter, dime, and dollar. Every time your “comment approval account” hits $5 it deducts from Paypal or wherever!

        • California Bob says:

          Isn’t that sorta how Patreon works? Or is it just for ‘artists?’

      • ross says:

        Ouch

  19. WOLFSTREET reader from Iran says:

    Wolf, thank you for all these great content; I’m talking about something unrelated to Ad-Tech controversies, so excuse me.

    Of course, You know all the major narratives & circumstances in the global macroeconomic climate.

    One of the most important recent disruptions in the increasingly-complex, ever-evolving global economy, has been the phenomenon that is described with titles like “container shortage crisis”, “shipping-cost uproar”, and so on.

    Unfortunately, seemingly all the articles about this, lack structured details and data.

    For example:

    * A chart, describing shipping costs between (for example) Shanghai and San Francisco, as a function of time;

    * How the uneven recovery of China, and the west, has resulted in ships being stockpiled at chinese ports, and how much is the difference of shipping costs in routes from China to the US, and from the US to China;

    * What is the role of companies like Maersk in this crisis; and how this crisis affects them financially;

    * How this crisis will likely evolve going forward;

    And so on…

    It would be great to read a WOLFSTREET article about this ocurrence; involving lots of nice diagrams!?

  20. Engin-ear says:

    Growing to the state of monopoly is a natural tendency for companies in the free market.

    And usually they get hammered by the competition or, exceptionally, by the application of antitrust laws (may be quick) or by internal implosion because the prosperity comes with comfort, laziness and decay (takes decades).

    I have nothing to add to this.

    I see a possible other explanation of ad revenues loss – the loss of ads efficiency.
    I believe there is cultural thing which is developing in consumer brains – ad blindness.

    People program themselves to selectively exclude from the attention focus any unsollicited ad from the digital content.

    Like the antibodies against the virus.

    • JoAnn Leichliter says:

      Good point.

    • 91B20 1stCav (AUS) says:

      Engine-ear-our nation’s ignorance of it’s history vis. monopolies as you so elegantly state never fails to discourage me (Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’ remains a great observation of this and Western civilization in the runup to WWI).

      ‘Ad blindness’-i like it. Developed that in my childhood back in the newspaper/paper magazine/network tv era (with a healthy assist from ‘Mad’ magazine), the bonus being that they didn’t (except for the occasional insert), obscure content. As a result, i didn’t resent their presence, knowing that they were paying the publication’ bills-i could peruse the ones i found interesting (full disclosure, we wired a ‘blab-off’ to the old crt tv’s speaker), no ‘ad-blockers’ necessary.

      may we all find a better day.

  21. steve says:

    Can you blame google for dominance in the advertising industry, yes.

    Can you blame them for the problems at huffpost and buzzfeed, of course not, their problems are 100% due to them producing content that nobody wants to read. Buzzfeed in particular is a standing joke, its content is pure trash, it worked for a while but now is a tired old formula. “12 reasons why you wont be reading this article , number 9 will shock you!”

    Websites come and go like the waves on a beach, the big news players like the daily mail’s of the world laugh at them and carry on counting their money.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      steve,

      “… due to them producing content that nobody wants to read.”

      BS. These sites have HUGE traffic. I said that in the article. And I checked their traffic data.

      YOU and I might not like their content. But that’s irrelevant.

      • No one wants to read anymore. Even wordpress has an app to convert your post to a podcast. You can listen to a podcast while you WFH, while you drive. Content serves the purpose of engaging you, positively or negatively. This is the charm of Trump’s mendacity, the viewer sees a way through, like an old Norm Crosby routine. You know what he meant to say. The MSM has largely given up on content and provides color, story about a dog who plays the violin and now has stage four cancer. Meta content.

        • Petunia says:

          The media really doesn’t produce any real news anymore. I listen to a show out of Canada that has callers from all over the world. There you hear about the protests in Paris, still ongoing, and the protests in Israel, I didn’t know about, and the war between India and China, nobody wants to cover. Maybe that’s why nobody reads the HP.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Agree with you Pet!
          While I continue to peruse the local mackerel wrappers as my dad used to call the local papers — to which he always maintained a subscription, most of what I read these days is from a wide variety of news sources that are based in other nations around the world, including Russia, China and HK, Jakarta, Singapore, Japan, Turkey, Israel, UK and Ireland, Cuba, and whatever new and local ones come up when I ask for news about, for instance, the current virus crisis in Brazil.
          It is absolutely true that I breeze though most of the above most of the time, and then end up reading every word of articles on Wolf Street for the in depth reporting and analysis of Wolf and the commentariat on here,, and sometimes learn more here than all the others combined.
          And similar to JC above, try to send Wolf a money order at least twice a year, as I no longer trust the USPS to send cash.

        • California Bob says:

          “((no one) – 1) wants to read anymore.” I’d rather read than listen to a podcast; I even wait to read the transcript of the ‘Wolf Street Report’ which takes even longer these days (hint, hint).

  22. Double Bluff says:

    Google and Facebook steal all of their content. Drudge got rich by stealing content. Theft is the internet business model. Honest, hard working content creators like Wolf are suckers – but thanks for trying!

    • Petunia says:

      I think driving views to content websites is different than republishing the articles under your own banner, that’s stealing their views.

  23. Jack says:

    GOOGLE MUST BE SPLIT.

    Or DIE A LONG PROTRACTED DEATH.

    how you ask me?!

    Easy, regulators can Tax the CRAP out of it.

    Are they capable?

    The land downunder might be the Guinea pig experiment to show the way forward!!

    Another one is FaceShit !

    I can understand why an individual chooses to lay bare their stupid life ( with photos and videos) on the www, but for the life of me

    I CANNOT COMPREHEND THE REASON WHY ANY PUBLICLY OWNED INSTITUTION OR GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS NEED A FUCKING FACESHIT PAGE?! :)

    Same goes for GOOGLE CRAP!

    If publishers get off their ass and make their own deals ,slowly but surely these big tech Bullshit artists will come around and negotiate better deals.

    Stop these scums , they’re hi jacking the real economy, for which we will suffer badly.

    The NASDAQ needs to go back to 10000 and pretty quick!!! Or better still 7-8k?!

    Money that can be used to put this country into gear and start a new industrial revolution has been SUNK into CRAP stocks aka NASDAQ.

    Rant end. :)

    • Petunia says:

      Fakebook is a govt/spy agency’s wet dream, provided at no cost to them. You can spy, smear, provoke, …..manipulate everything.

      • Jack says:

        Petunia

        Hahahahaha ?

        Is this why we don’t see any move on these “ disruptive” SHYSTERS?!

        Is it Herr Wolf’s “ Omertà “ in full display here?!

        There was once Laws in this country that protected consumers from MONOPOLIES!

        or was that So last Century?!

        I demand that GOOGLE and Facebook and the rest of the FAANGS be broken up immediately!!!?

        These digital tools are running the country that they were supposed to “ TRANSFORM “?!!

        IS IT ANY WONDER that their CEO’s are so full of hot air?

        Thinking that their AI going to win their WAR against society?

        If that is their claim, then they’re sorely mistaken, there will be a POINT of INFLECTION that will deflate all those Bubble Heads.

        This has gone way too far ???

  24. fizee says:

    I have always thought it sad and wasteful that the freshest, sharpest, most creative minds in society expend their energy formulating elaborate, persuasive ways to direct people to purchase products that the creators of the advertisements have no interest in. This is a dark art that gets right down to its black roots when it enters the area of political persuasion. But like all fickle psychological tricks it doesn’t always work. I remember attending Leni Riefenstahls “Triumph of the Will”, the famous Nazi propaganda work, with other history buffs. It opens as I remember with cloud shots from an aeroplane and a solemn voice saying “in 1930 (something) …. Hitler flew….”. The audience cracked up because it was so pretentious. But at the time Leni probably thought she was on reasonable ground suggesting Adolf may have had the power of flight.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      While I would certainly NOT agree with any of the three superlatives you use to describe advertising industry workers in general, I would agree that there is far and away too much use of advertising/brainwashing for evil purposes, including politics especially.
      IIRC, back several decades, when studying such things at the best public university in USA, we were told that USA was the only so called developed nation that had not outlawed subliminal advertising on TV and Radio.
      Not sure if that is still the case, but in any case it appears moot, since it is clear to many that ANY advertising/brainwashing appearing or part of audio IS being recognized unconsciously/subliminally by most if not all human brains, just as is being recorded by the brain any other viewable, hearable, or otherwise sense-able event/activity in our environment.
      And with TV on for an average of 14 hours per day formerly, and the level of focus on phones and computers likely similar or more so these days, it is no wonder we are becoming a nation of mostly totally brainwashed consumers, or at least wanna be consumers.
      Speaking of which, I want some ”liquidity”, the stronger the better!!

      • Wisoot says:

        No need for education when programming via adverts and gaming exists.

        • ‘Triumph’ became a classic only later, like the plotline in ‘The Producers’, or Hogan’s Heroes. Old propaganda serves as new comic relief. The role of the old pitchman pays residuals, including a recent four year stint in the WH. There will soon be more Trump impersonaters than Elvis impersonators.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          @AB – Donald has left the building.

  25. Another Scott says:

    Google also drives traffic away from publishers. Does anyone else remember CelebrityNetWorth? While not the most important subject in the world, the site did publish (or publishes) information about how much money celebrities are have, based upon reported income, and I believe in one case, actual photographs of bank statement, provided by the celebrity.

    It was generating traffic and had a decent staff until one day Google decided, “why don’t we take that information and put it on our site?” So now the information was put onto the search page so people don’t click on CelebrityNetWorth. Traffic to the site plummeted overnight, yet Google still sells ads on its pages based upon information from the other company.

    This is just one example, and not the most important one, but time and time again Google is directing people away from competitor sites and towards its own. A competitor is naturally anyone who has a website and advertisements.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      Next you’ll be telling me that controlling all rail shipping is bad for oil prices.

  26. Swiss says:

    Hey Wolf,

    Do you get more revenue if the ads on your site are clicked upon?

    I’m more than happy to click open a few tabs of ads per article to keep your coffers from emptying.

    • SwissBrit says:

      Somehow my screen name got chopped…

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Swiss,

      PLEASE DO NOT CLICK on ads just to generate revenues for me. Google’s bots detect this, and they start slashing my revenues.

      If you see an interesting item being advertised, and you want to check it out, by all means click on the ad. But please do NOT click on the ads just to generate revenues. It effectively does the opposite.

      • Danno says:

        Thanks for letting us know this. I get bombarded as a single male with hot women in lingerie here daily….and yes I have clicked them for a quick peak.

        No more and all the best!

      • Watch it says:

        “PLEASE DO NOT CLICK on ads just to generate revenues for me. Google’s bots detect this, and they start slashing my revenues.”

        This seems counterintuitive. What’s the rationale behind this? Your rates should go up being you have a popular site!

        Wolfstreet is the supebowl of finance sites.

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Google tries by hook and crook to increases its bottom line, and it does so by deducting from the amounts it owes publishers. The deductions can be huge, and publisher have no rights in this scheme.

  27. polistra says:

    No sympathy at all. These big publishers are all pro-monopoly, pro-evil, and anti-human. They all supported and created the “deregulation” that made the biggest monopoly of all possible. They made this procrustean bed, and I’m joyously happy to see them lay in it.

    • Bobber says:

      I also have no sympathy for big media, which has developed a strong taste for meaningful social controversies. They go for the easy eyeballs, pandering to the masses, trying to create controversy where there is none. They’ve divided this country into two camps, unnecessarily. If they focused on issues, instead of party politics, the US could be one nation again.

      One of the biggest issues is the concentration of power across all industries and related job losses and lack of competition. 80% of people would agree. How much does big media write about that, relative to meaningless social happenings and controversies?

      • Bobber says:

        Meant to say “meaningless social controversies”.

      • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

        When one of the two major political parties in your country decides a children’s book publisher deciding (on their own!) to stop producing 5 or 6 unpopular titles is the biggest problem facing our country…it’s not the “big media” at fault.

        I’m no fan of the big media but look at what happened with the GOP. On their own, they chose to merge w/big media: Fox “news”, am hate radio programming, infowars, etc.

        There is a revolving door between Fox & the GOP.

        You make a deal w/the devil….you’re probably gonna get burned.

        • Petunia says:

          There’s a revolving door between NBC and the DNC. Did you notice it, I did.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          PBS Newshour, BBC World America, and DW in English have become droning mouthpieces for blue party ideology. They used to report, now they almost exclusively editorialize.

      • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

        They are just colors for politics at this point like in video games. That is how I explained it to my child. Red vs. Blue. Ask one member which party they represent and they are quick to answer. But then actually show them the values and that choices are much more than one side vs. the other and they firmly will re-tell you the color side they are on. So people alienating the other party be it for votes or money is just the way it has always been.

        • p coyle says:

          i think the first few seasons of the rooster teeth halo version of red vs. blue was much superior to this current DC version.

          “it’s one of life’s great mysteries, isn’t it?… i don’t know, man, but it keeps me up at night.”

  28. Jdog says:

    First, there is no such thing as a news industry, there is only a public propaganda industry, and it is populated with the worst traitors in the nation. With the exception of a very few honest people like Wolf, the rest of so called journalism is 100% lies and deceit.

    • Swamp Creature says:

      Joseph Stalin, the father of PRAVDA, first published in Russia in the 1920s, would be proud of our news industry today.

  29. I wonder to what extent this reflects how people are getting their news as well and changing tastes. The print media medium has been undergoing a long and painful decline which was not caused by advertising revenue declining but rather by how news was taken in by consumers; the ad revenues fell as a result.

    Another thought: if traffic is high but individuals use ad blockers and pop up blockers (I usually do), would this also not contribute to the overall loss of revenue in terms of ads viewed?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Yes, ad blockers contribute to revenue loss, but it’s a different issue, and they’re not included in the math here because we’re looking at dollars per ads served, in terms of what Google does. An ad blocker prevents ads from being served, and so those blocked ads never show up in these stats.

  30. simjam says:

    Wolf, stop crying and start charging. That is all you have to do. Make people pay for your work. They will. Glenn Greenwald charges, so does the NY Times, and many others.

    Why don’t many sites charge? Because folks won’t pay for their info. They are getting their market price for their information. Allow the government to regulate this briar patch? You’ve merely added a canopy of corruption.

    • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

      I think he does it because this is his passion. At least that is how his articles come across to me. I stumbled across this site and am tickled pink I did so. And an angel just got wings or Wolf just got a donation. Either way we are more informed with these timely nuggets of wisdom

      • Swamp Creature says:

        Everyone who reads the site frequently should just buy a bear mug once a year. Don’t worry about what Google is doing or ad blockers.

    • Tom Pfotzer says:

      Wolf, cover your ears.

      Wolf is doing this for impact. To make a difference. To be Somebody Useful.

      When you charge for your content, that creates a barrier to discovery.

      That barrier excludes people, and the people that are most excluded are the very ones that most need to hear what people like Wolf have to say.

      Think about how terrific this world would be if the people making a difference got paid for it. So, if you’re lucky and you’ve got some cash, send some to Wolf.

      Support feats of unselfish creativity.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      The more new folks start reading this site the better. I will gladly pay to keep it free so that newcomers get hooked. I close the tab/window on most paywalls when they pop up – they never get to show their stuff.

  31. Turtle says:

    Display ads have been declining forever. I had been an online publisher with sites in varying markets since the 90’s and whether it’s AdSense or some other network, the earnings in proportion to traffic have always been in decline. Even more so now with privacy concerns. I got out last year and don’t regret it.

    I was always able to earn more from selling a product/service rather than from display ads. Affiliate commission, when there was an appropriate product to market, were usually more potent than ads. But, you usually have to sell something direct to squeeze the most out of your audience, from what I’ve seen and experienced (generally speaking).

    I think this is just the reality and it is lousy in at least one way because people are ending up with less access to information (how often do I search news and end up blocked by a paywall). I use the Vivaldi browser on my Mac and DuckDuckGo app on my iPhone. I’m mostly Google-free and love it. People are rightfully tired of ads and tracking.

    Wolf, it may be worth considering (reconsidering?) offering your articles/newsletter on a subscription basis. An occasional freebie but mostly for pay. I’ve seen this approach coupled with a members-only Slack community (or Discord or Discourse, etc.) that really hooks people in, even more than the content – if you can believe that. It’d be a bold endeavor, no doubt.

    You have huge engagement in these comments and somehow it feels like there’s more you can do to capitalize on how much people enjoy your content and having discussions with one another.

    At least get some checkboxes on the comment form to hook people onto your newsletter and follow replies and posts ;)

    • Turtle says:

      In other words, consider putting yourself first.

      /end unsolicited suggestions

    • Ralf says:

      Could you point me in the direction of these groups (on Discord/Slack)? I’m interested how they are organized and how it works.

      • Turtle says:

        This is the example I had in mind: https://poststatus.com/club/. It switched from public blog to paid newsletter/community about five years ago. I was skeptical when the idea was first pitched because I didn’t think there’d be enough support. It turns out there was a lot of support. If I remember right, the owner was making a full-time living within two years. The newsletter and Slack channel are still going.

  32. NARmageddon says:

    It seems to me that an internet advertising CO-OP might be a good antidote to amazon, facebook and google.

    Also, I think making a search engine is no longer such a big deal, technically, in case that should be required.

  33. lenert says:

    I used to read HuffPo – until they started advertising.

    If I had a federal voucher to support creative works I might drop a few shekels of it on Wolfstreet dot com.

  34. timbers says:

    What’s ironic, is many libertarians defend corporate monopolies/monopoly practice when done by the likes of Google, Amazon, Apple, Fakebook, Twitter. Apparently tyranny is OK as long is privatized. Maybe even when by the mostest wokedest.

    • lenert says:

      Are you saying a federally enforced copyright monopoly lasting 70 years or more might be anti-competitive?

      • timbers says:

        That, but more so, libertarians can’t ever admit of an instance were govt regulation – like anti trust – is beneficial. It would destroy their entire universe of belief.

        • lenert says:

          Welp those government-granted patent and copyright monopolies are pretty beneficial – if you’re the CEO google or pfizer. /s

  35. Sea Creature says:

    I think the future is paywall-coops with some fremium..

    I pay for news subscriptions, as most of the ‘free’ news now is essentially pravda style propaganda paid for by the billionaires (or their hedgefunds) that own the papers (Washington Post, Sac Bee, Wall Street Journal), and certainly not worth subscribing to.

    (Wolf excepted, but I bought a $100 mug to support WS a couple months ago, and will probably buy another one next year to share beers with my friends and add to my collection :-) ).

    I used to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal before Murdoch bought it. The WSJ of old was very expensive, but very very good. Once Murdoch bought it, it became another shill-pravda don’t hurt-the-billionaires rag, so I cancelled the subscription. I would gladly pay for it again if it was run like it was pre-murdoch.

    I now subscribe to the Epoch Times (not the greatest, but still the best I could find in the tatters of what used to be news publishing).

    The Sac Bee keeps trying to shame us into subscribing, which I would but every other article is some sort of woke nonsense about BLM, or trying to implicitly convince me that I am a racist since I was born a white male, rather than talk about things like inequality in the country, how the billionaires have hoovered up all the money over the last 50 years…etc. which actually is what they should be writing about.. (of course such an article would go against their owners so will never get published). They think that it is better we are all fighting against each other and not against them I guess.. so why subscribe to that..?

    First issue, is good publishing needs to be paid for. Google is not going to do that in the long run. That means paywalls. But a paywall and registration for every publisher is sort of impractical. There needs to be a paywall co-op, where people sign up, and then money is distributed based on traffic of the member publishers or something. Actually, an ad co-op could maybe work the same way, so the member publishers keep the money rather than Google..

    • VintageVNvet says:

      I LIKE the paywall Co-op idea SC,,, and will break down and subscribe if it even contains three of the news sites I would like to be able to read but don’t now because of the individual pay walls not being worth it.

      GOOD IDEA! Hope it can catch on!!

      Maybe Discus or some such can get it going??

      • p coyle says:

        what about an option to distribute your subscription fee on a per/click basis, so most of your money goes to the people that created the content you read. it would be like the opposite of old school cable.

  36. Questa Nota says:

    Economic Value Added, and similar concepts, were big news late last millennium. Within those was the notion to identify each aspect of production and other factors, then to extend that to find out what added and what detracted from some ‘ultimate value’.

    That devil’s calculation led to pushing every envelope to the edge, to see where there might be value to extract. One extraction arose through employee comp and benefits, and others through each line on the P&L and balance sheet. All those little hidden gems needed mining.

    Fast forward to today, and ask an economist how much consumer surplus you’ve retained, and how much was transferred to some producer surplus. Factor in liberal, edgy use of the tax codes, domestic and foreign, plus offshore accounts in the Channel Islands, Panama or wherever and you have a wealth extraction and concealment that resists attempts by the IRS, Inland Revenue and others for their shares.

    Then realize that Google is only one of the many to play their game at a scale that crushes mere mortals. Have a nice day.

  37. John Vermeer says:

    Great article, Wolf, can’t believe how knowledgeable you are plus on top of your writing ability.
    I’ve gone into my 80’s now and find this situation with Google and its stranglehold on publishers to be a sickening situation and hate leaving
    this vale of tears in such straits but it doesn’t appear it will be fixed in my lifetime. Meanwhile, many of my favorite writers at the NYT have disappeared. I’m sure the same holds true for readers of the HuffPost.

  38. I keep expecting the ad revenue game to collapse, but it keeps morphing into something much bigger then even the economy. Doug Noland once did a piece on the “Media Bubble” but he gave up. Information is a commodity and all commodites serve as information. The Chinese created Trump by rousing US nationalism and consumer ideology. The major powers embedded our networks, to gather metadata ostensibly, to better market our needs. The rich have no idea they own durable goods, they drive a Lamborghini perhaps. The poor resist vaccines because there is no ad campaign. Services and goods which have no visibility are relegated to the Deep State. One reason why US national security is a crisis in the making at least since 9/11.

  39. Seneca's cliff says:

    I was thinking, If I had a button that would go back in time and freeze technology at about 1985, is there a single good reason not too? Don’t worry Wolf, we would all be subscribers to the Wolfstreet newsletter.

  40. Nenad, Toronto says:

    This is why I laugh when they speak about IT giants as technology / innovation companies.

    Steam engine was innovation, AC electricity was innovation, commercial flying was innovation, even a humble washing machine.

    All these things created new opportunities, markets…

    Most of “disruptive” companies are doing just that, disrupting / gutting existing marker. Google, Uber, AirBnb. Yes, at the beginning they provide some benefits for individuals, but that is quickly lost when monopoly is established.

    • Tom Pfotzer says:

      Yes to this, very useful insight.

      That change of focus from creating wealth to extracting money is one of the primary reasons the middle class is shrinking.

      Automation is good for cutting costs (like labor). It’s not nearly so good at creating wealth. It takes imagination and different-ness to spot what others are missing.

      Extraction .vs. generation. Take note, young folks. You are feeling alienated for some very good, fundamental reasons.

      So where’s the “creation frontier”? Where’s that place, sector, theme, perspective that will enable you to live a good life, to feel creative and useful, to redirect us out of this cul-de-sac we’ve stumbled into?

  41. MCH says:

    Would be curious to see if there is a breakdown somewhere of the percentage of ad revenue to each of the parties in the chain. I wonder if that’s available anywhere, would even Google know the precise amounts?

    Curious about how ad revenue is tied to results and really how its split. If it’s by pure traffic, then the indication of declining revenue would indicate that the middlemen are taking an ever larger cut of the pie. But since I would guess there is just some lack of transparency on the percentages. Kind of interesting in a way because at least a Uber driver would know how much he is screwed because of he can figure out the cut he gets just by talking to his passenger.

    The opacity of it is certainly to the advantage of the guy in the middle, gives them the best chance to arbitrage the same product/services. Heh heh, at the end of the day, these so called tech companies are nothing more than a bunch of glorified middlemen for ads, in some way, that’s hilarious, and in others, its deeply depressing to see how talent (such as it is) is actually deployed.

    Contrast that against Jesus (I mean Elon) does, it’s no wonder Musk has so many supporters. At least what he does (even if it is over inflated) has something approximating real value.

    • lenert says:

      Guaranteed. Systems break, counts are off, pissed off clients calling wondering where their ads are or even why they’re still running when they shouldn’t be; don’t look in the sausage grinder.

  42. Cambric Finish says:

    It simply is not good enough to have a good company and compete successfully with the competition. You are first expected to maximize profits for investors. There are a lot of people who would be happy with just the former goal but we now have elevated the latter goal as the primary objective. This latter goal attracts the type of smart people who are good at focusing solely on that goal. If you get one extreme or the other you get different problems. Our problem right now is the referees’ role (aka, government) has been greatly weakened and the rules of the game (laws) are too influenced by the winners. Thank you Chicago school of economics and Milton Friedman(salesman extraordinaire), et al., for providing a framework of “science” that doesn’t reflect actual human behavior. Ideas do have consequences, bad ideas have bad consequences!

  43. marc says:

    Can Huffpost and Buzzfeed still be considered journalism?
    No.
    So, omerta or not, nobody cares of they die.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      You might not. But they have lots of readers.

      • MonkeyBusiness says:

        This whole thread is just filled with aMErican exceptionalism:
        1. “If I don’t like it, IT must be close to death”
        2. “If I like it, IT’s the greatest thing ever”.

      • MCH says:

        So, in terms of sausage making, you don’t deal with Google directly on ads? But you have an ad agency (some kind of adtech company?) that works to place ads on your site, and that’s probably routed through Google, or are they a mix of Google, and going direct to the actual advertisers that pay the bills?

        I am assuming you’ve compared the results between the two, have you found some form of optimization in terms of who generates better results consistently? Or is it in such a flux that it’s not possible to tell the difference?

        What you’ve said is that volume of traffic is up, but ad dollars is down, that seem to track I think with what Google keeps saying about less revenue per ad, at least that’s what I think I saw on a prior quarterly report. One wonders if this is a general effect across industry as less ad dollar is being spent, or if it is an effect of the middle men taking more of the cut.

      • cas127 says:

        Wolf,

        In a way, mega sites compete against themselves (and batter you too).

        Because of their essentially infinite ad inventory, they drive everybody’s (including their own) CPM rates down.

        They try to make it up on volume…

        It is a case of vast ad space supply meeting finite ad space demand at about 50 cents per thousand readers.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          I would argue the inverse. There is a finite, albeit large, supply of ad space that is limited by physical servers. The supply of ads, enabled by software duplication at virtually zero cost, is essentially infinite, limited only by the willingness to pay for ad placement.

        • cas127 says:

          Lisa,

          I think we are (almost) in total agreement (perhaps I expressed myself poorly).

          It all boils down to supply and demand in the overall ad mkt.

          Internet technology has allowed for an enormous, ultra low cost expansion in ad space supply (a zillion more publishers with near zero incremental ad space costs).

          But ad space demand has lagged far, far behind.

          So, ad space that might have gone for $10 per thousand readers (CPM) pre internet, is now forced to sell for $1 (or less).

          It is a paradise for information consumers and advertisers…but a hell for publishers (some of whom were previously oligopolistic profiteering pirates).

      • marc says:

        Sure. Lots of million views cat and baby videos on youtube also.

    • EJ says:

      Buzzfeed sponsors some great investigative journalism. They break some fantastic leaks, and do their homework on them.

      Yes, they are still true to their name… but they do both now.

      Never thought I’d make such a claim a few years ago. But hey, this last decade was *weird*.

      • cas127 says:

        **5 of Buzzfeed’s GREATEST investigative journalism PIECES!!!…And KITCHEN APPLIANCES YOU MUST BUY NOW!!!!***

        Hmm.

        Bueller, Bueller?

        Are we counting the utterly discredited Steele/Russia dossier that in all probability was the greatest BS political oppo plant of all time?

        But I’ll admit they are a superior source of news compared to HuffPo…

  44. Ross says:

    The real irony is advertising itself doesn’t really work.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      As they say, half of it works, and the other half doesn’t. We just don’t which half.

      • Ross says:

        That’s a comforting axiom for advertisers to convince themselves that at least half their advertising dollars aren’t wasted, but the data shows it is closer to 90-100% waste. If readers would like to learn about some of the studies, start by searching for “Freakonomics advertising part 1”

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          Hmmm. 10% advertising success? That’s around the percent of big win trades for successful commodities traders I’ve heard bandied about. I guess the net result is that it works, and profitably.

        • Lisa_Hooker says:

          I’ve heard that direct mail has a success rate of 1-3% and is profitable at that rate.

  45. David Hall says:

    I used to bookmark news media sites until they put up paywalls. Some news sites remain open. I subscribed to the Washington Post for national political news. They have a paywall. Google is my favorite search engine. YouTube videos are great information and entertainment sources. I used Google and Amazon for online shopping. I found communities in Facebook.

    • Lisa_Hooker says:

      I prefer state.gov, cia.gov, nsa.gov. From the jackass’s mouth so to speak.

  46. MiTurn says:

    I am a citizen of the dystopian Rebulic of Google Amazonia and my job is be the best consumer of disposibles I can be, sort of a consumerus maximus.

    Oh, and to vote appropriately and like it.

  47. MonkeyBusiness says:

    There’s a reason why I love The Onion.

    Economically Healthy “Daily Planet” Now Most Unrealistic Part of Superman Universe.

  48. ru82 says:

    Wolf- Ad the extension Lightbeam 3.0 to a firefox browser. It graphically shows all the sites a website connects to.

    Truely amazing. When I go to wolfstreet.com, I have connected to 145 websites behind the scenes.

    Wait…after typing these couple of sentences I checked again….. it is now 157 sites

  49. otishertz says:

    Politely,

    Who says the number of your views?

    • Wolf Richter says:

      In terms of my website, I get the data from my server via the WordPress software this site runs on; and also from Google analytics (which I use only for the “real time” traffic data).

      In terms of other websites, there are services out there that provide various metrics, including Alexa.com

      But Facebook can easily exaggerate the number of views that an ad on its site gets because of the way it has structured its ad servers and its whole site.

Comments are closed.