Can a content site be better with Ads?

I noticed that Horace Dediu, the founder and main author of asymco, recently started adding sponsored content to his site. Typically, his articles are data-backed analysis of the mobile market. To get a quick idea if you don’t know it, see this recent entry titled Revolutionary User Interfaces. In it, Horace uses data visualizations to show how Apple disrupted the phone market with multi-touch.

It happened despite having a clear, front row view of the transition of the industry from mobile voice to mobile computing. The shift in the basis of competition from “connecting people” to “connecting people to data” ended up being a classic disruptive trap. Many will argue that it was the failing of individual managers. Perhaps, but how did they conspire to fail simultaneously?

When you see disruption happening, it’s natural to seek out a cause, a pivotal magical “force” or event that enabled the weak to humble the strong–the proverbial sling that enabled David to defeat Goliath.

The article is worth reading, but what I wanted to point out was how his sponsored content is as interesting as a typical article. This one for Textastic reads almost as a follow-up.

With the new touch-based devices of today, we are seeing similar migrations of utilization to new jobs to be done. The simpler creative tasks migrate first and the advanced (or emergent) uses follow. Like with the microcomputer, the first common creative task for tablets happens to be text-based editing.

I have been giving a lot of thought to this kind of advertising, where it is as useful as the content to the reader. This is more than just relevance and unobtrusiveness, as I think advertising from The Deck accomplishes on sites like Daring Fireball. Instead, it turns advertising into something that I would read eagerly and perhaps miss if it were gone.