The [Growing & Never-Ending] Privatization of Online Space

As online viewership concentrates on key platforms and “community” services, the role which marketing and big money is playing to shape the digital media experience should be a focal point of debate. YouTube, for example, notes this week’s Advertising Age, “is doing custom campaigns for major brands that cost about $750,000 a pop; housing dedicated channels for marketers and, yes, some content players that can run up to $500,000; and front-and-center home-page positioning with its four “director’s placement” spots, which cost about $50,000.” [sub required. “Did Google Flush $1.6 b Down the YouTube?” Matthew Creamer. March 18, 2007].
We think the prevailing ideology that online communications must be thoroughly “monetized” is troubling, and raises key public interest concerns. What will the spiraling costs for effacious YouTube access mean for non-profit groups, issue campaigns, and independent political candidates? Will we repeat the same business model for political communications in the U.S. with digital media that we have for television? Will big, special interest money be required to really attract attention. I believe that the changing nature of the digital medium will eventually make the notion that a stand-alone “viral” video can be a major agent of social change an endangered species.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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