Speaking at the Malaysian Media Conference in Kuala Lampur last week, Michel de Rijk, Asia Pacific CEO of programmatic trading firm Xaxis, said: “Millennials think news is free and ads are annoying. They need to understand that journalists need to get paid."
In addition to the usual rhetoric about the need for the ad industry to amp up its efforts in making advertising more relevant and less intrusive, he noted that the media is missing an important element of the ad-blocking story -- that no one is explaining that online content, despite popular opinion is not free.
Rijk said, "No one is writing that -- no journalist is covering that." He added that while Yahoo made a recent decision to block Yahoo Mail users who have installed an ad blocker, "someone needs to maintain the servers."
Of course, blame for all of this goes back more than 20 years when early players in the Internet space rallied behind the "information should be free" cry which, of course, then became the de facto standard of doing business online. In most cases, no one, except advertisers, pays for anything online. That's been the norm for two decades; the quid pro quo agreement between consumer and producers of online content.
But ad blockers have tossed a monkey wrench into the mix and all hell is breaking loose. Tactics like native advertising and content marketing are working hard to make up for the loss, but for the most part those tactics are just stop gaps.
And so it really is a simple math problem. If there isn't any money to pay the people who create content or buy and maintain the servers that host that content, there will not be any content. No one's really coming at the story from that angle. And those who have lived almost their entire lives consuming content for free might need a good slap upside the head. In fact, everyone could use that slap. Because there are only two choices: ad-supported content or subscription-based content. And we all know most will take free if they can get it.