Friday, August 14, 2009

Digital Rupert Wants You To Pay To Read His News So He Can Datamine Your Personal Info For Advertisers

"News Is Very Expensive To Create"

By Darryl Mason

Here's Richard Freudenstein, CEO of Digital Rupert, explaining to the recent Sydney Advertising & Marketing Summit how the Murdoch media will not only charge for online content but will also suck up personal details about readers and make them available to advertisers.

In short, the Murdoch media want you to pay so they can target ads directly at you.

"The problem is that the traditional advertiser-supported model is not enough, by itself, to pay for the level of investment in journalism that society needs.

So to make up the difference we have to look at charging for content.

The question is having been given it for free, will people now pay for online news content?

The first thing to remember is that people happily pay for news every day.

Indeed nearly 19 million newspapers are bought in Australia every week.

So clearly there is a healthy market for news.

But the future for Murdoch media is not newspapers, that old "dinosaur industry" as Stephen Mayne calls them, but Digital Rupert's holy grail/messiah: The E-Reader.

"a high-definition full colour e-reader, containing all your favourite newspapers and magazines from around the world...."

Sounds awesome.

But wait....

"It will deliver high definition ads which, when touched, will run a video, give detailed product information, download a brochure, or run a price comparison across local retailers.

An exciting proposition, I’m sure you’ll agree."

So you will have to pay to have some hyper-reality ad leaping out of the middle of a story shouting your name and telling you how absolutely rocking you will look in this new electric car.

Who will this paid content e-reader near-future world of Murdoch news be actually serving. The consumer, or the advertiser?

Some refreshing honesty from Digital Rupert's CEO :

Indeed, uppermost in our minds is that whatever the platform is, it must work effectively for not only our readers, but also for you – our agencies and advertisers.

We’re confident that the combination of print, online, mobile and e-reader presents a terrific opportunity for advertisers.

We’ll have a large, highly engaged opt-in audience who are open to advertising messages.

Now it sounds fucking shit, particularly if I'm paying for it.

And we all know what 'opt-in' means. If you don't read the contract and/or agreement carefully enough and see the part where you have to 'opt-out' to stop the bombardment of advertisers, you will automatically be 'opted-in.' Some still seem surprised to learn that someone else can own the rights of their photos when they publish them on social networking sites.

But here's the hook for those who want to drive you bonkers with ads, it's the real brilliance of getting people to pay for online content in the first place: the customer be able to sign on to get the news anonymously, there will be mandatory details that will have to be supplied, along with the payments. Not solely for security reasons, but so your personal details and interests and online habits can be auctioned to advertisers. Data-mined in other words.

"....we’ll have their full registration details – location and demographic details. We’ll know their consumption habits and we’ll be able to target them across multiple platforms."

I don't know if you've ever been "targeted across multiple platforms", but it doesn't sound pleasant.

So this is the future of Murdoch "quality journalism"?

It's the digital equivalent of what one of my old newspaper bosses told me about the value of news and feature stories in his publications : "They fill the space around the ads. They give readers something else to look at."

And finally this revelation from the Digital Rupert CEO :

But when it comes down to it, people want the news, and they want news they can trust.

The problem is that such news is very expensive to create.

Did he just confirm that the Murdoch media "create news" instead of simply reporting it?

There is a very exciting e-reader news revolution about to begin, but there will be many who will find a way to make it profitable without data-mining their customers and storming their brains with electronic advertising designed to distract you from what you're trying to read, or watch, or hear.