Ad Age, an old guard media company, seems to relish the unrest experienced by two prominent online startups last week.
It was a tumultuous week for new-media companies. First, the student social-network Facebook suffered an uprising in response to new activity-tracking features. Then, changes to Digg.com’s algorithm for weighing and ranking news stories touched off a minor upheaval by top contributors.
In each case, sites that pride themselves on egalitarian principals made top-down changes without input from members. And in each case, the communities to whom these sites owe their success threatened to vanish as quickly as they first appeared.
For advertisers, these incidents embody the risks associated with consumer-generated media as a marketing tool. “Why would an advertiser invest in something so fragile?” asked Robert Passikoff, president of the New York-based market-research firm Brand Keys.