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Journalism Organizations and the Clickmetrics Economy: Past, Present, Future

Date & Time:
17:00:00 - 19:00:00,
Tuesday 30 June, 2009


Joseph Turow will contextualize journalism within a larger project he is working on that looks at the implications the click, broadly defined (including remote-control use and credit-card swipes, for example), on the emerging media system and the larger society. He is exploring how a few virtually unknown media-buying firms (some of this originating in the UK) have become the hubs of a new ‘click’-based advertising system that is changing pecking orders in the media world and, through that, the pecking order of consumers and what they see of their worlds.

Media buying involves purchasing space or time for advertising on outlets as diverse as billboards and radio, mobile phones and newspapers. Over the past two decades, the activity has emerged from a low-status position to become the most influential arm of the advertising industry – even more influential than the often-heralded ‘creative’ branch that includes copywriters and art directors.

He argues that the media buyers’ fixation on clickmetrics – on the measurement and encouragement of audiences’ commercial clicks – is a disruptive institutional force with cascading influences. It is, however, a power rarely discussed and very poorly understood.

Pundits and media executives invoke the audience’s changing habits in response to new technologies to explain the decline of newspapers, the transformation of television, and the reorganization of media empires. He will suggest that the media buying industry’s focus on clickmetrics has been at least as important as the audience in toppling traditional media. Moreover, media buying firms are exerting deeper influence than the audience when it comes to shaping our twenty-first century media environment.

He will particularly invoke media buyers’ interest in what he calls ‘the long click’ to point to what journalism organizations will need to get satisfactory prices out of media buyers. Whether most US news organizations can do that at the scale media buyers want while keeping the trust of their audiences – and doing it before they go bust financially – is very much an open question.

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  • Name: Professor Joseph Turow
  • Affiliation: Robert Lewis Shayon Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies,
    Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania
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