There’s an intriguing post on CNNMoney on how Google’s business model undermines not just newspaper advertising, something that’s been pointed out for a long time, but advertising itself:
“You buy a commercial in the Super Bowl, you’re going to pay $2.5 million for the spot. I have no idea if it’s going to work. You pay your money, you take your chances.”
On the topic of pay per click, Karmazin concluded:
“That’s the worst kind of business model in the world. You don’t want to have people know what works. When you know what works you tend to charge less money than when you have this aura and you’re selling this mystique.”
If that’s right the success of Google doesn’t just spell doom for paper newspapers. It’s the end of newspapers, radio, television, and any other medium that depends on “selling this mystique”. It’s the end of mass culture, the growth of which is what really ended the Great Depression.
In the future we may be able to delineate sharp boundaries between epochs. From 1920, the year of the first commercial radio broadcast, to 1998, the founding of Google, may be distinguished as the age of mass culture. From 1998 onwards, as we sit in the middle of it, we can only think of it as the age of Google.