Trying to stay up to date on how Casiano Communications tries to leverage the content of their vanity press business newspaper is a challenge. After building a pretty good reputation with PuertoRicoWow.com, a couple of years ago, they decided to completely destroy that URL and reinvented itself as CaribbeanBusinessPR.com. They also briefly launched IslaEventos.com to take it down only a few months later without any explanation
Over the weekend, I decided to see what was up on the site. When I tried to read one of the articles, I was met with the following two splash pages:
Now if you've been paying attention to the newspaper and publishing industries, you'll know that a great evolution or revolution (depends on your role in the change), is taking place. Previously here on Dondequiera, I shared that Entrepreneur magazine predicted the extinction of newspapers in 10 years.
Lately the debate on the future of web-based content has been heating up with Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation, drawing a line in the Internet sand and announcing that he was not going to allow free access to content on any of his online properties, which include: the Wall Street Journal, AmericanIdol.com, Fox(*).com, Hulu.com, IGN, MySpace, to name a few.The additional implication of moving these sites behind a pay wall, was that they would also be excluded from indexing by search engines.
It has been clear for years that Casiano Communications does not understand the Internet, proof of that lies no further than merely examining the history of the many changes they've made. For example, while careful control of one's digital brand is critical, why would you eliminate sites completely from the Web? All traffic is good traffic. And sites cost nearly nothing to keep up and growing. Elegantly rerouting traffic to where you "really" want those visitors to go is the real trick.
The simple analysis of Casiano Communications' latest move is that CaribbeanBusinessPR.com is not meeting revenue expectations. While their pages do have some banner ads, most pages end up with only Google AdSense displayed beside the content. As I have mentioned, repeatedly, to the detriment of all local businesses, they do not understand Google AdWords, and therefore do not use search engine marketing. Which ultimately means that the inventory of Google AdSense ads for Puerto Rico is woefully small.
Now it could be that Manuel A. Casiano has been listening to Murdoch and saying to himself: "Yea, that's the ticket. That old fart has a point." Could be, but I'd say that Casiano is no Murdoch. The amount of content under the News Corporation umbrella is massive compared to Caribbean Business. In a response to Murdoch, Google's Eric Schmidt had this killer quote:
"There are enough free sources that the marginal value of paying is not justified based on the incremental value of quality"Conclusion
I think it is dangerous for Casiano Communications to make such a bold decision about a technology that they clearly don't understand. My guess, is that they will be underwhelmed with the Internet's response to their new strategy. They just don't bring enough quality to the table to expect people to pay for online access to their content.
Why? Basically two reasons. First, according to one estimate Murdoch's intention to move the Wall Street Journal behind a pay wall could cost the site 25% of its traffic. So following a similar strategy will make Caribbean Business Online disappear almost altogether. Second, the experts say that the odds are against them. According to the new 2010 Media Outlook report from Fitch Ratings, most newspapers attempting this strategy will fail.
In the end, the poor state of affairs for Internet Marketing in Puerto Rico makes the whole idea of online advertising a losing proposition, for anyone in Puerto Rico. Unless you're a monopoly, like El Nuevo Dia, but that's another post.