“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product being sold.”
“As for why he’s taking such a dramatic stand against ads, Sullivan said that he’s watched the media industry over the past decade and found that the pursuit of ad revenue has led not just to blatant “whoring” for pageviews (for example “slideshows of topless celebrities”), but also exerted a more “subtly corrupting” influence by leading to the creation of special issues and the like, which he said are basically “gussied-up vehicles for advertising.”
“Both those avenues seem kind of desperate,” Sullivan said. “You find yourself trying to create pageviews that don’t really have any editorial basis.”
With this approach, on the other hand, Sullivan said he’s solely responsible to readers, and if he succeeds, it will be because he offered content that readers believed was worth supporting: “It really does leave it in the hands of the reader. We’re not going to get bailed out by [IAC/Daily Beast owner] Barry Diller or Credit Suisse or some ad network. They know that the readers are all we’ve got.””
From Sullivan’s discussion of his decision on The Dish itself:
“…as we debated and discussed that unknowable future, we felt more and more that getting readers to pay a small amount for content was the only truly solid future for online journalism. And since the Dish has, from its beginnings, attempted to pioneer exactly such a solid future for web journalism, we also felt we almost had a duty to try and see if we could help break some new ground.
The only completely clear and transparent way to do this, we concluded, was to become totally independent of other media entities and rely entirely on you for our salaries, health insurance, and legal, technological and accounting expenses…
Here’s the core principle: we want to create a place where readers – and readers alone – sustain the site. No bigger media companies will be subsidizing us; no venture capital will be sought to cushion our transition (unless my savings count as venture capital); and, most critically, no advertising will be getting in the way.
The decision on advertising was the hardest, because obviously it provides a vital revenue stream for almost all media products. But we know from your emails how distracting and intrusive it can be; and how it often slows down the page painfully. And we’re increasingly struck how advertising is dominated online by huge entities, and how compromising and time-consuming it could be for so few of us to try and lure big corporations to support us. We’re also mindful how online ads have created incentives for pageviews over quality content…
We need, in particular, to get paid decently for what is extremely intense work 365 days a year. Some people I bump into ask me how we produce 240 posts a week (13,000 separate posts last year alone) or how we read the 90,000 emails we get a year. I have a simple answer: we work our asses off…
The point of doing this as simply and as purely as possible is precisely to forge a path other smaller blogs and sites can follow.”