Interesting observation from Antony Mayfield (who is finally blogging again):

[The audience’s] antipathy to advertising in general (witness ad-blockers and the rise of ad-free streaming) may present indies with their biggest opportunities in the branded content market: they are able to produce high quality content and are more likely to be interested in audience development than reach (the latter being the default obsession of firms with advertising DNA).

While Antony is talking about branded content, the point is more widely applicable. The rise of social as a major traffic generator has led to reach being a metric being more actively discussed by journalistic publishers – and it’s not always a healthy process. As a profession, we’re relatively immature in our use of analytics, and it’s easy to get distracted from creating value for a worthwhile reader base by the shining lights of huge reach numbers.

There’s only room for a small number of high volume, high reach ad-supported media companies, and unless you’re already close to, say, Mail Online‘s scale, you’re probably not joining that club. And so you’re better off letting go of the sweet seduction of big numbers, and paying a lot more attention to developing a valuable audience you can monetise in a variety of ways.