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Publishers on Push: Greg Beato
I think the primary virtue of push is the way it releases content providers from the merciless ad-tracking capabilities of pull media.
Content providers working in traditional media all benefit from the vagaries of their respective ad-measuring systems: because there's no way to absolutely track how many of a magazine's million readers actually look at a given ad, the mag gets ad revenue for each one of those readers.
In a pull media environment, that benefit is (potentially) eliminated: You can tell an advertiser you have an audience of 100,000, but what if only 80,000 show up on the day that that advertiser's ad runs, or only 40,000 visit the page on which that advertiser's banner resides? For a while this seemed like a benefit to content providers as well as advertisers, because it gave them a reason to tell advertisers to spend their money on the web rather than on other media. But the implication of this benefit is that you should only pay for actual ad-views, and that's a less-than-compelling development from the content provider's perspective.
So, push media to the rescue. It restores "full use" of your audience - if they sign up once, they become a reader/viewer every time you've got something to publish. Now, just like with TV or print, no one really knows if anyone who's getting "pushed" is actually absorbing the pushed content. I could go on vacation, leave PointCast running on my desktop the whole time, and to them I am just as valid a subscriber as someone who's actually viewing their information; the important thing is that a transaction has been recorded - I am a viewer to whom information was sent. And thus, I have been leveraged for my full ad-revenue value.
In this respect, push seems like a real triumph to me, and if I ever create media where advertising plays a role, I will most definitely implement a push component.
G. Beato is a San Francisco-based freelance writer. His latest project is soundbitten.
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