Online personals aren’t content. People don’t pay to read personals–they pay to post them. Or they buy access to a poster’s contact information.
Clay Shirky calls it communication. I’d call it advertising. But, I suppose paid communication is advertising, isn’t it?
Whatever you do call it, observers increasingly agree that the Online Publishers’ Association shouldn’t count it as paid content. The good news is that the OPA is finding a much more skeptical audience this year than in the past.
Their information is so good and so useful that it’s a shame to see them get use the same dopey definition of content. No doubt they will continue to do so as long as news outlets report their big market size number uncritically.