Will We Ever Avoid Ads? April 12, 2011Posted by Peter Varhol in Publishing, Software platforms, Strategy.
While there is no question that the Internet and Web has transformed our lives in many ways, there is one area in particular that gives me bitter disappointment in the nature of the experience. My beef is that far too many companies think that the answer to building revenue is through advertising. Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and a host of others that are innovating like hell to bring people together in new and different ways believe that their primary business model is boring, old-fashioned advertising.
This situation has been brought to the forefront (again) with the announcement earlier this week that Amazon will sell you a Kindle for $25 less than its usual price if you accept advertising, on the home page and on the screen saver.
I have to admire the idea in the abstract; when we’re reading periodicals, on paper or on the Web, we’re used to looking at ads. And they don’t sound like they are going to be particularly invasive.
But I loathe the concept in principle, primarily because it doesn’t reflect any sort of innovation in business models. And I abhor the idea that I pay for the reader up front (albeit slightly less with ads), then support the vendor, in this case Amazon, with an ongoing stream of ad revenue.
But my biggest issue is that the Web changed so much about how we live; can’t we find a more modern way of making money? Why do so many Web businesses have such old-fashioned business models? With an entirely new platform, the brightest kids in the room, and the latest technologies at their disposal, you would think they should be so much more than ad vehicles.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll also say that I own a Nook rather than a Kindle. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Nook follows suit.
The coupon websites also gives me the creeps. These businesses are about nothing more than translating a long-established advertising and consumer incentive model online. What on earth is so original and valuable about Groupon, LivingSocial, and their ilk?
As the technology succeeds more and more, and makes us more knowledgeable, better informed, and more efficient, you would think they could think of more innovative ways to make money. No, this is a dismal failure of the business side of the Web.