The Week: Best of the blogs

The age of 'Free and good'

This year may well be the year of Peak Advertising. The year in which there is the most advertising. And after that, there's less each year.

Most traditional media seem to be in a period of creative flowering and commercial decay. And while online advertising growth is bound to continue, it's not extra money, it's money coming out of other places.

But, you still might argue, if all that's happening is that advertising's moving from one place to another, there's not going to be less of it. Well, yes. Except for two things. First, the web birthed the adblocker. That's not going away. Second, there are lots of non-commercial alternatives that are free and are quite good. And "free and quite good" is hard for regular commercial media to deal with.

Whatever you think of this blog, you're reading it now, and while you're doing that, you're not watching Hollyoaks or reading The New York Times. And I'm not doing this for advertising revenue, I'm doing this because I like doing it. And I'm not the only one.

Rupert Murdoch can't compete with "free and quite good". He can't compete with Wikipedia and craigslist. The only way to compete with that is "expensive and brilliant" and a) that's hard, and b) difficult to get people to pay for.

It's a simple equation. There's a limited amount of attention in the world, and if more of it is going to personal, non-commercial, unadvertised-in media, less of it will go to advertising and advertising will shrink. Or I could be wrong. Anyway ...