I was going to put together an interesting links post, but realized that Chris Dixon had penned three posts that each made it on to the list - thus he gets a post of his own.
Chris Dixon: Online advertising is all about purchasing intent. "When people talk about search being a great business model (for, say, Twitter), they should distinguish between search with purchasing intent, which is an incredible business model, and search without purchasing intent, which is a terrible one." Word!
Chris Dixon: What if online business model innovation is slowing down?. "On the other hand, what if we are mostly done creating big new business models for the web? History suggests that business model innovation is rapid right after the advent of a new medium and then slows down considerably. If indeed it is slowing down, social media could end up like instant messaging – incredibly popular but basically lousy at monetizing." It is not only about business model innovation but about business model adaptation and execution.
Chris Dixon: Why content sites are getting ripped off. "But content sites have no way to track their role in generating purchasing intent. Often intent generation doesn't involve a single trackable click. Even if there were some direct way to measure intent generation, doing so would be seen by many today as a blurring of the the advertising/editorial line. So content sites are left only with impression-based display ads, haggling over CPMs without a meaningful measurement of their impact on generating purchasing intent.
All of this has caused a massive shift in revenues from the top to the bottom of the purchasing funnel - from intent generators to intent harvesters. Somehow this needs to get fixed."
The publishers' work is in figuring out how to start tracking intent generation (via traditional proxies like brand awareness, brand perception etc but also domain type-ins, search volumes), connect it to purchase behavior and get paid for it.