Yes, I know where I am, this is Blogger and therefore Google. The headline of this article is a bit bombastic and attention grabbing, but there is a truth to it. Most all of the Internet ad-dollars these days go through Google and Facebook.
That is, the ad-dollars that aren't blocked because of malware being delivered in drive-by attacks from banner ads. I block them all nowadays because I can't count the amount of times my anti-virus has screamed at me because I white-listed a site and turned them on because I wanted to "support" a site with my eyeballs and see a couple ads.
But when I started my e-read site, the blog ad model was viable. Ad-blocking was not as prevalent. There was still a viable "off Facebook and Google" model for delivering content. And now this:
Now it seems even the mainstream news sites that link to Facebook are seeing significant drops from in traffic. Algorithm changes. Fake news filters hitting mainstream and reputable journalistic sources. Nothing has changed but the code, supposedly. Even the Chicago Tribune has reported a huge drop in views - from Facebook.
Somehow I fear we have reached that day where there is no more free Internet. Free, as in freely shared and freely accessible and freely found. Now yes, you can make a blog and do what you want out here, but the big reason why has went the way of the ad dollars - directly to Facebook and Google, along with all the other eyeballs and clicks. It is like millions of sites have suddenly been demonetized, and out here it really isn't worth putting your time into a site and doing all that hard work in being an independent voice.
For a niche site like mine, that is a killer. Granted, I never had many ads at all on e-read, but there was a thought of building the site and eventually taking ads. Now? That model is very difficult to justify. The eyes and clicks just are not out here in the wild anymore. Even the sources of eyes we rely on these days, Facebook and Google, seem to be severely cutting back on outside sources.
I think that is the most scary part. In this rush to filter "fake news" we are killing independent sources of information. We are also killing traditional journalistic sources as well.
The computers have decided no one wants to see you today.
If we can't even rely on Facebook or Google to deliver viewers, we are stuck with that last little, shrinking, 15% of the pie. And if your site is flagged as adult content, good luck being included in Google searches or even shared on Facebook.
This blog? Not adult content. Not flagged because I don't share anything here except my mostly work-safe thoughts. It is also on Google. It also does a lot better than an indie site because it is visible to that 85% of the world (at least the Google part). If I remain as a voice on the Internet it shall be here, because this is where I can be seen and heard.
And also, if I want to be seen and heard, I shall probably spend my time writing books. Those have a lot longer staying power and better reach than a blog, considering they can stick around for hundreds of years in a variety of digital and print formats.
What am I to think? Indie sites have failed. Blogs outside of Facebook or Google have failed. There is no money in them anymore, and the ad-supported model has collapsed. Linking from social media sites is collapsing, so that traffic is going away. Even indie blogs report the ad companies they are dealing with scare off readers because the ads themselves are so intrusiv and annoying.
With a shrinking pie, the last few non-85% ad companies have to milk every click even harder, which I feel drives more people away. Or more people to block ads entirely.
We have reached a point where people DVR the Internet and fast-forward through the commercials.
Moreso, because of the strict filtering and dungeon-ing of adult content, what we can say has been severely limited and cut back. Our reach to those looking for discussion of mature concepts has been severely restricted.
If you want more eyes, stay the hell out of the adult marketplace.
I hate saying those words but I feel the awful truth to them. I can't promote a tweet for a erotic fiction book on social media because my account has been marked as 'adult products and services' - even to those who may show an interest. Even though more porn is shared on these services than I can count.
We want you here, but we don't want anyone to see you.
This really isn't Google or Facebook's fault though. It is ours because we choose to make these places our digital homes. Where we search. Where we share. We created this problem. The policies of these places make it worse and also limit speech, so that is another issue. But it is tied into the bigger problem.
Our choices limit what we see.