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The Internet Trap$
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Matthew Hindman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159263

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159263.001.0001

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A Tilted Playing Field

A Tilted Playing Field

(p.15) 2 A Tilted Playing Field
The Internet Trap

Matthew Hindman

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on stickiness—the factors that allow sites and apps to attract and keep an audience. Critically, many tactics that promote stickiness get cheaper per user as sites get bigger. The Internet thus provides economies of scale in stickiness. Bigger, more popular sites and platforms find it easier to attract still more visitors, and to build up habits of readership. The chapter shows how the economies of scale that shape countless traditional industries, from airlines to automakers, remain powerful in the digital economy. Here, understanding digital audiences starts with digital economies of scale. The goal is to highlight some of the most powerful and best documented forces that skew the game toward the largest players. Size advantages alone are not the full story, after all. But with so many strong economies of scale, of so many different types, in so many different areas of digital media, the chapter argues that it is time to stop pretending that the Internet is a level playing field.

Keywords:   stickiness, economics of scale, digital economy, digital audiences, digital economies, Internet, digital media

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