Kohler: “there is no wastage with online advertising”

Alan Kohler has written a piece on Crikey about the future of quality journalism … it’s a good read from a very smart guy.

However he is way off the mark with this statement. Way off.

Full article here -> http://www.crikey.com.au/Media-Arts-and-Sports/20090409-Kohler-a-flowering-of-journalism.html

“Advertising has become completely accountable — that is, there is no wastage with online advertising so the amount spent can be targeted and therefore can be much less for the same result and access to the same audience”

Advertising isn’t completely accountable online (measurable to an extent but there’s a lot of mystery around what happens) … and it’s up for debate that you can get the same result and audience for much less in a cost sense. If you compare media channels digital right now is generally more expensive than any other.

If anything – these are the 2 key areas digital/online needs to sort out.


5 responses to “Kohler: “there is no wastage with online advertising”

  1. Alan Kohler has a few online gigs at,
    and he’s just trying to angle for some ad revenue.

    However bashing journalism isn’t it. I wonder if CBA would continue to spend on Buisnessspectator.com.au if Alan started ripping into them about not passing on interest rate cuts?

    Financial reports being paid for like Eureka report and Rivkin Report have several benefits over many online information sites.
    1. people are used to paying, often a work expense
    2. fee is off set by customers making alot more financial gains than
    3. rich demographic

    I agree with you Ben, Alan is stating an old online mantra to try and pry more ad spend online.

  2. Surely online is more accountable than TV, radio or print?
    Also – What standards of accountability do you use to say online is more expensive than offline?

  3. A bit harsh, Mal. You could make that accusation (the bit about CBA) to absolutely any journalist who works on a publication that carries advertising.

    Which is pretty much everyone but the ABC.

    Maybe they’d choose not to advertise, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t say it if he thought it.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  4. talkingdigital

    Hi Bernard,

    I think it’s important for us not to confuse accountability with measurability .. the two are very different. Just because you can meausre an action online doesn’t mean it’s more accountable than any other media.

    In terms of costs – well in terms of audience reach and impact, online is more expensive as it stands. Whatever way you look at it it’s generally the case. I think most of the industry are unaware of how much other non digital media charges to reach an individual. That is why I say digital publishers need to move away from selling reach and start selling engagement … otherwise the only way is down for CPM and yield.

    Mal – whilst I agree Kohler has a motivation to talk up the cost and ROI benefits of online … I strongly doubt a guy of his stature and reputation would pander to advertisers when it came to editorial.

  5. What a shame Crikey forces a subscription to leave a comment on Kohler’s piece.

    Kohler’s piece was interesting, but misses a few things.

    Apart from the clanger raised above re: ‘no wastage’ in online advertising (yeah, right), he also misses the counter side to low/no barriers to online publishing.

    The new barrier to entry is being found.

    While anyone can start up a free blog, it’s very hard to reach large enough audiences to receive advertising bucks. This is the new obstacle to entry.

    He also really misses the point when he says:

    “The fact that some of the old publishers are going out of business and the industry is being forced to get leaner and hungrier is great.”

    While there are benefits to this, leaner and hungrier will translate to less investigative and in depth reporting. Who would have covered the Victorian bushfires if not for mainstream traditional media?

    Secondly, online writing tends to be shorter and lighter than print. All well and good. But quality analysis will suffer as a result. Just check the difference in articles published on smh.com.au versus the print edition.

    To a certain extent, this shift is in train and not much can stop it. But there are broader downsides that Kohler misses.

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