Slate’s Daniel Gross gets all meta today with a fin de siecle article claiming that blogging is dead because Big Media is noticing it and wants to play. Like an good trend piece, he picks four data points and extrapolates:
- Whatever trend gets on magazine covers is immediately dead.
- Early entrants sell out
- Big Media buys in
- Gullible VCs buy in
A close reading, however, shows that the four points are really just two: The Sports Illustrated Curse, and Money Changes Everything.
Is all the corporate money spent on blogging being spent wisely? Of course not; that’s why it’s called venture money. Money in media goes where the audience is and it’s insanely valuable to find an audience that already exists, as opposed to one that you have to try to create.
The problem isn’t that online media valuations are out of line. The problem, which Gross never quite gets to, is that big valuations expect big returns. Ad money is flowing out of print and out of mass media and into online media. The returns will be there, at least for a while, because the technical investment — servers and bandwidth and whatnot — is long since sunk.
The trick, as it always is, is to find a way to converse with this audience in ways it finds appropriate. And what’s different in 2006 than it was in 2001 is that the audience is much bigger now and that it grew by itself. The other difference: marketers have five years’ experience in figuring out how to converse with an online audience — Slate’s own valuation notwithstanding.
And if they blow it? The audience will stop listening and find some other place to congregate and talk amongst itself. At which point the cycle will begin again.