“The shift to digital isn’t benefiting large media corporations so much as it’s enriching search and social media companies that can scale audiences and their data to create targeted advertising that a media company could only dream of replicating. Google and Facebook control 50% (and growing) of the domestic ad market. After you add Microsoft, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Amazon, you’ve accounted 70% of digital advertising.
“Some of the largest digital media companies, like the commercially hapless Yahoo and AOL properties, are left fighting over scraps of branding banners and squares. Even lean operations like Gawker Media are victims of digital journalism’s lean margins. It’s not a coincidence that the most successful big digital media property, BuzzFeed, isn’t really in the old-fashioned adjacent advertising business at all. It’s a website where original stories live next to “promoted” ads engineered by an in-house laboratory for building advertising that will go viral. That’s not like Time Inc. going into digital. It’s more like Mad Men going into digital journalism.