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Change, Please

It’s no picnic being in the land of the lost. That would be the place where dinosaurs roam. Traditional media, for example. People in broadcasting and print have about as much cachet these days as a greatbigasaurus brunching at Tavern on the Green.

We are inextricably associated with an era of polyester slacks and the venerable hip-pocket whiskey flask. We are painfully uncool, most of us doing the jobs of three people in this, the era of downsizing, and generating several billion dollars--nearly $47 billion for broadcast TV last year. The top 10 magazine publishers in the country cranked out nearly $18 billion two years ago; the top 10 newspaper companies, nearly $24 billion.

These are figures I found online, where all the money supposedly is. Around $25 billion last year, primarily because Google has found a way to parlay the split-second click into what appears to be an audience. Perhaps it actually is an audience, and I am the only one in the galaxy who automatically tunes out online pop-ups and display ads. I have stuff to do, like everyone else.

I’d like to know the percentage of click-throughs that are cursordents, the official portmanteau I just made up for cursor accidents, when you click on the thing right next to the thing you actually meant to click on and sit grumbling while the wrong page loads and you must waste actual seconds getting to the one you want.

Let’s see what happens to Google’s share price when they are inundated, nay, bombarded, with queries about cursordents.

My point, and there is one, is that I’m wondering when the current Internet bubble is going to pop like a sticky, pink Bazooka sphere. There are something 2 trillion pages on the Web, or a great many for every TV network available to the average American. The chances of people seeing an ad on TV versus one on the Internet would therefore seem to be slightly higher.

Online ads also seldom appear on the beach, by the pool, in the gym and in waiting rooms around the country. No, there I see four-color, hard copy publications extolling the best and worst bikini bodies. Print still has its strongholds as well.

The third factor likely to affect the online ad market is rarely mentioned in wanton revenue projections. That would be the bandwidth/price ceiling. We all want faster connection speeds, but we also have only so much money to spend every month, and lots of folks have reach that threshold, thank you very much. Network providers need new revenues to build beefier systems. Otherwise, the inner tube will choke.

Thus I predict a leveling in the ad market when the effect of the Kool- Aid subsides. Remember AOL? That was the online company that caused Time Warner to implode with the grand scheme of “synergy.” Remember YouTube? Me neither. How about Mark Cuban, who sold a Web site for $6 billion that he used to start a television network. Hmmm. The secret to attracting eyeballs is doing something interesting, regardless of the platform.

Revenue figures for broadcast, print and Internet sourced from the Television Bureau of Advertising; Advertising Age, and Information Week.