January 14, 2011
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Smoke and Mirrors

John Gruber nails an important dynamic in the business of commercial blog networks. He responds to a strangely-argued post at Newsweek by Dan Lyons about how the Verizon iPhone is doomed with the conclusion"

I can’t decide whether Lyons is really this wrong, or if The Daily Beast makes its writers post eye-rollingly contrarian stuff like this just to get links.

This dynamic explains why so much business writing in the US is so incredibly bad, why pundits consistently make wrong (and self-interested) predictions, the predictions turn out to be nonsense, and the same people are then trotted out with the same ideas in the next round of articles. It doesn’t matter if you’re wrong, as long as you get lots of attention and inspire lots of comments and start a good flame war. That gets lots of page views and sells lots of ads.

I suspect, though, that those page views and those ads are actually defrauding the advertisers, that flame war participants are not really prospects. Eventually, advertisers may catch on.

On the other hand, Google has been tricked into showing ads recently on some splog farms-- the sort of page you stumble onto when you mistype a URL and that shows you nothing but Google ads. We'd never buy ads on a site like that! But, astonishingly, those ads are working; somehow, they are reaching people who actually want to buy a sophisticated tool for analyzing and sharing notes.

It's a confusing world.