Online personals are advertising, not content

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.

One thought on “Online personals are advertising, not content

  1. I come down on the side of this argument that online personals should not be counted in the OPA’s definition of the paid-content industry. However, in reality, personals ARE content AS WELL AS advertising. It’s been that way since the days of personal ads in alt weeklies. They’ve always been an entertaining read. They’re read by lots of people who have no interest in acting on them — and that’s long been the case. I vaguely remember some readership studies of alt weeklies from long ago that documented this (though a quick search at AAN.org failed to turn up anything).

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