Nick Denton's new advertising system may foreshadow a post-blogger future

Digiday | GigaOm | Felix Salmon

Gawker Media honcho Nick Denton is weaning his sites off banner ads, he announced in a staff memo Thursday: "In two years, our primary offering to marketers will be our discussion platform." That's the new commenting system Gawker sites began rolling out at the end of April, one Denton thinks can be sold.

Gawker's sort of throwing up a leaky paywall around the system; Mathew Ingram wondered why advertisers wouldn't just hop into Gawker comments for free. Denton told him:

Advertisers will pay for promotion of the discussions in which they engage. Just like any marketer can go into Twitter — but sponsored tweets give them more prominence. They will also be paying for our help in discussion management. Just like they currently contract with us to create sponsored content in the voice of the web and the Gawker readership.

If Denton's new model works, it'll represent an important shift from online content to online discussion. In this weekend's New York Times Magazine, Binyamin Appelbaum delivers a profile of Business Insider blogger Joe Weisenthal, who epitomizes what one might call the "old Gawker" model of real-time, iterative blogging. Felix Salmon reads a dig at that approach in the piece:

Yet again, it seems, the NYT Magazine has published a blogger profile which makes bloggers seem weird, immature, and hyperactive — the kind of profile where the subtext is that “it’s OK if you don’t care about the second-to-second noise and the personal revelations, you’re fine ignoring the blogosphere completely and getting a more considered view of things from the NYT instead”.

Weisenthal's doing what Denton seems to be hoping the comments system will do in the future -- digest, correct, and move stories forward. And if that's where advertisers want to be instead, maybe there will soon -- gulp -- be notably fewer bloggers for The New York Times to profile or the rest of us to read.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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