New media news: Ad revenue down 5.2% 1H’09, FTC sets endorsement rules for Blogs

    08adsThere’s never a dull moment in the new media publishing space. Information travels so fast these days, it’s unfathomable. Remember the shampoo commercial where one friend tells another? Or the Brady Bunch opening? Multiply by about a million to get a sense of how fast, and how global this new digital economy has become. Hey, the Economy 2.0 we talked about in 1999 is actually here, maybe.

    A few bits of breaking news of interest to the Web 2.0 and media world worth sharing and discussing.

    Ad revenue, not surprisingly, is down 5.2% for the first half of 2009 according to a report from PWC and IAB. The big 4 Web companies though also saw revenues decline, so this news is consistent. And given the brutal climate in early 2009, it’s actually not that bad. I have a feeling Q3 numbers and the second half will look a lot better, hopefully just like the San Jose Sharks.

    Oh, anecdotally, want to know a great bellwether for the economy?


    It has to be the best measure of sentiment I can think of (outside real data and reports of course). Just watch what the masses are putting into their uber carts. Last year, it was almost 100% food stuff. Necessities. Non discretionary spending. In other words, the bear essentials to get by. What a difference, though, in the last few months; more LCD panels, more computers, more electronic gizmos like the weird 8ft bat with LED eyes they love to sell… all are finding their way into carts. Okay, it’s not scientific. But try it out.

    Now, here’s the other bit of news—and we’ve been hearing about this in the Web / Media / Blogging space for some time now.

    In an effort to ensure transparency (you know, just like the financial regulations), the FTC announced that Bloggers must disclose payments, aka “blogger payola,” received for products and services reviewed. If not, they could receive penalties up to $11,000 per violation.

    “Given that social media has become such a significant player in the advertising area, we thought it was necessary to address social media as well,” said Richard Cleland, assistant director for the division of advertising practices at the FTC.

    See, in some ways, this is yet another leading indicator of an improving economy. Why else, prey tell, would the Government spend time chasing Bloggers and a $12 Riesling instead of, say, oh, things like foreign policy or banking systems and policy? Probably, they too, would just love free wine samples and swag bags.

    But, seriously, it marks the maturation stage of this little thing called Blogging. Less like the Wild West, perhaps it is growing up. Indeed, its (and our) influence is growing. Readers trust people they can relate to. And tools (key word here: tools; not to be confused with business models) like Blogging platforms enable us to connect with global audiences who see us as credible news and information sources, potentially not beholden to corporate interests.

    Expect the Blogosphere to light up over the coming weeks as the debate rages on. Some see this as a step in taking away the liberties that Blogs provide. What’s next, they ask, casual Fridays and softball teams?

    For me, it’s fine. If you get something free to review, let people know; not sure I understand the need to withhold this information. Again, I think it has more to do, at least for some Bloggers who see their keyboards as omnipotent game changers and revolutionary arms, with steps towards a perceived ominous Orwellian future. Well, or at least, maybe they’re just wine Bloggers.

    By the way, while we’re on the subject: Bloggers, please get tougher (and more realistic). The credibility would help. We are not shills. Instead of praising the living bejesus out of that crap Riesling, why not stand up and call a doggie here and there. Then that next recommendation might just carry a bit more weight. Hey, maybe I’m talking to  myself at this point. And for the record, my money is on the Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling.

    Disclosure: my friends at the Washington State have never sent me samples, despite my never ending praise and affection.

    The Washington Post: FTC Sets Endorsement Rules for Blogs

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