There have been a few breaks in the black dotcom clouds over the
past weeks, allowing some rays of sunlight to hit the digital
It's both easy and fashionable nowadays to label anything dotcom
'terribly last year' and the recent, but predictable, downturn in some
areas of the market seem to garner more media attention than the good
And there has been some good news. AOL has weathered the downturn of the
US ad market and reported a 9 per cent increase in revenue for the first
quarter of 2001, and added a further two million subscribers to its
The latest figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers for the Internet
Advertising Bureau show that online adspend grew by more than 200 per
cent in 2000, compared with 1999. Although the growth of online ad
revenue slowed slightly in the final quarter of 2000, it still showed an
increase of 135 per cent and overtook cinema. Total ad revenue for 2000
was pounds 154.7 million - towering over 1999's pounds 51 million.
Figures for the first quarter of 2001 are expected to show the
long-awaited drop in the market.
Things are still pretty tough out there and internet-based companies are
looking at ways to bump up revenue. The most popular seems to be the
introduction of paid-for content.
It recently emerged that FT.com was considering charging subscribers and
the media and marketing internet newswire NetImperative suggested a
pounds 50 subscription fee to its users this week.
Freeserve trialled a pay-per-view model for the recent Lennox Lewis
fight and both Granada and ntl have confirmed their intentions to roll
out pay-per-view-based viewing models for online football coverage.
The question that online media owners are asking themselves is: 'Have we
spoilt our subscribers too much so far?' I'm afraid that, yes, they
probably have. We are so used to getting our content when we want it
online, and for free, why would we want to start paying for it now?
The only way this might work on a major scale is if all online media
owners begin to follow this model. If there are still content providers
offering people for free what they would have to pay for on other sites,
then it's obvious which way most consumers will go. If AOL is surviving
on ad revenue alone, why should it annoy its happy subscribers by
introducing fees? Plus, we all know how great the new-media industry is
at sticking to the same rule-book. I think it might be back to the