Driving traffic

In a (somewhat elliptical) post in June, I shared my view about the likelihood of an ad-supported model saving journalism:

"It seems clear to me that ad-driven (traffic) strategies for online journalism are unlikely to generate enough revenue to sustain a high-quality effort. The financial success of traffic-driven sites masks an overreliance on free labor and opinion disguised as expertise."

If there was ever a strong argument against ad-driven traffic strategies, it might be found in a recent ZDNet post, “The changing role of PR in the era of pageview journalism”. There, Tom Foremski riffs on a New York Observer post by Ryan Holiday to ask:

“Can PR companies drive traffic to a story that I write? If they can they are golden. Reporters will take their calls over any others.”

The opportunity available in traffic-seeking news sites isn’t a quiet secret among public relations professionals. It should be a loud wake-up call for sites built on a traffic strategy.

To be clear, I’m not looking for stronger codes of ethics. I think Foremski makes a clear case for disruption. If a PR effort can create more traffic than a news operation, why bother with the journalist?

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.