Nicholas Carr wrote recently:
Google’s business isn’t really about monetizing eyeballs; it’s about monetizing clicks. That may seem like a small distinction – you have to attract the eyeball, after all, before you can spur the click – but I think there’s actually a very big difference. Eyeball monetization is the traditional media strategy: publish or broadcast content that attracts readers or viewers, and then intersperse ads among that content. The content, in this case, serves not to prompt action directly, but merely to draw an audience that’s attractive to companies looking to promote their products and services. There’s a natural distance, in other words, between the content and the ads – a distance that’s good for the content producer but often frustrating to the advertiser.
The click monetization strategy removes that distance. In Google’s AdSense program, for instance, a media company, or other content producer, earns nothing by simply attracting eyeballs. It only brings in cash by getting viewers to click on an ad link…Google talks a lot about the “relevance” of its ads, but relevance is a byproduct. Google is building an extraordinarily sophisticated machine for manipulating consumers – for increasing the odds that you or I will not just view or read but click. The most economically successful online content producers will be those that work within that system.