A few days back, Readability launched their iOS and Android applications for helping users bookmark and archive content for later perusal. With the advent of Instapaper and Readability, we may possible be seeing a change in the business model for many websites and online networks .
For a very long time, most websites and networks believed in the strength of harnessing user information received through cookies, visits and account information. This user data was then mined and analyzed to provide information for designing targeted advertisements. Apart from this, websites and networks believed that such user information could always be of greater advantage, both for predicting alternative patterns and as an intangible asset for alliances with other firms .
The introduction of Readability creates two distinct issues for marketers and website owners:
a) The Readability application allows users to save a clean version of the website/page they are viewing , thus denying advertisers the chance to use the existing data or collect new data for future mining. Further since the advertisements are removed, this also acts as a clear loss of revenue for the website owner and the marketers.
b) With Readability / Instapaper , the chances for a reader migrating to new links and trying out a dozen other links ( ads/ promoted news articles ) are much lower as he chooses to read just what he archives.This reduces not just the number of views but also might impact the Google Rank of such pages , thus creating a spiral of decreasing marketing chances.
We have seen a shift in the internet towards a content era where the firm with the best content wins. Here a firm like Readability/Instapaper has as good a chance at providing quality content recommendations or friend suggestions as a Twitter/ Facebook / LinkedIn. This means that the classical model of social networks might slowly change to include applications such as Readability/Instapaper which, if they show a willingness to expand quickly and provide simple free services (much on the lines of Google ) .
This is also a danger to Internet firms like Yahoo and Google whose cash cows are online advertising and depend on marketers and website owners seeing value in the online marketing concept. It may not be in the near future, but just like people are willing to pay more for escaping television ads, people might just choose an ad less application to an ad filled one. Equally important for Google is to learn from the print industry, which became heavily reliant on advertising as a source of revenue, thus gradually making it less interested in pleasing readers as it was towards managing advertising .