When was the last time someone came up to you in real life and said, “Oh, I just saw this thing on The Huffington Post that you must read.” Or: “Damn, you gotta see what TechCrunch just ran!”
How many people in the real world have heard of John Gruber? Doc Searls? Tim O’Reilly?
Now, how many people have said to you, “I just saw that ad on TV.” Or: “You must read this article in The New York Times.”
How many people in the real world don’t know who Katie Couric is? Rush Limbaugh? Bill O’Reilly?
Most people heard of the iPhone through TV, and international MSM coverage, not the Internet.
Most people learned of the Kindle through that Newsweek cover, TV, and international MSM coverage.
There’s a great mistake people on the Internet make: Thinking “in here” is greater than “out there.”
“Out there” we are at war with two nations and an international philosophy devoted to martyrdom.
“In here” we argue about the things that concern us.
Those two circles hardly ever overlap.
Even with something as pervasive as the introduction of the iPhone, what people were thinking of about it “out there” was tremendously different than the discussion we were all having about it “in here.”
Apple understands the difference between “out there” and “in here.” Which is why it advertises primarily “out there” and lets all of us “in here” spread the word on our own.
Most of us use ad blockers or are simply used to ignoring elements on a page past that we’re arrived to look at. When people came to my blogs, it was usually through a link they’ve seen elsewhere. And the overwhelming number of people read that thing — and then went away.
They don’t devote any time to going through the rest of a blog. It’s in and out, like sex with a prostitute. Give me what I’m here for and then we each go our separate ways.
That doesn’t happen “out there.” Sure, people can skip commercials with a DVR or skip pages in magazine or newspaper — but in those instances, something else tends to catch their eye and they will look.
That hardly ever happens “in here,” where we are all such efficient multitasking consumers.
So when I read about advertising dying “out there,” I stop to wonder just what exactly is going to take its place?
Are we all going to be suckered by people with fake personas created to draw us to their blogs and sites in order to be shilled things via unstated Pay Per Post methods?
This is not an academic question and I bring it up because it concerns how writers are going to engage with potential readers — who mostly live “out there.”
We’ve read accounts of writers who have used the Internet to go on to success — but I’m very skeptical of those. Not that their work wasn’t good enough to succeed, but I always wonder what bits in their history we’re not being given. Did they have a friend who was a publicist? Did they convince one of the large sites to cover them — which led to a cascade of links elsewhere?
Trust me on this: If most writers have to make a living “in here,” they will starve to death.
“Out there” must be engaged.
But if the media that reaches “out there” drops dead due to lack of advertising, what’s left?
I’m indebted to the ever-cheery Rex Hammock for stimulating this thinking with another post of his: The web is a place. This blog is me.