Tomorrow The New York Times technology section and WSJ.com will be reviewing the new Recovery.gov web site, which launched today to showcase how the stimulus funds are being used to perform CPR on our economy. It has some nice touches: Omnipresent web video, registration for email updates, chance to share your personal stories, a timeline of activities. MSNBC will run a puff piece and Rush Limbaugh will have histrionics.
But the real story is advertisers are scared, because Recovery.gov is one more illustration of how large and complex organizations (such as the federal government) are bypassing traditional media sources (CNN and Fox News) to speak directly to the public. And when big players talk to small consumers directly, the old model of third-party interception with advertising gets pushed aside. The issues driving this are manifold:
+ Low-cost mass media — the White House can set up a web site anyone can access for a few thousand dollars.
+ Almost-perfect access to scheduling — news of new information sources travels extremely fluidly, so consumers know almost instantly that a major new source (Recovery.gov) has launched without reading TV Guide.
+ A plethora of free media platforms — YouTube, Twitter, Blogger — give enterprises of any size free video and text publishing tools to set up their own transmissions.
+ Growing consumer comfort in finding, sharing, and adding to source material — perhaps the biggest trend of the past 5 years is people yearning to participate directly in how information is shared.
It’s a lovely move, watching people become more creative with more access to more programming. Except it is squeezing the financial sources that make it all possible. With nary an advertiser in sight.