If you don’t read Seth Godin, you really ought to.
His recent post, Ads are the new Online Tip Jar, reminds me of a colleague’s blog from a few years ago. I remember reading this person’s rant about the ads that pop-up on our local newspaper’s website. She felt she should be able to read the news online without pesky little ads popping up. I tried to explain to her that the ads are what makes the website ‘free’. I never could make her see the logic, but it did prove once again, that there is no free lunch. Or news.
We live in a world where information is at our fingertips, seemingly free for the taking. Wikipedia replaces the home encyclopedia set (except we actually use wikipedia, where as the encyclodias tend to just gather dust), news websites replace printed papers, and the good folks at Google, Yahoo, MSN etc make it easier than ever to find the exact information you’re looking for. And its all free, right?
I remember my senior economics teacher wrote on the board the first day of classes “There is no free lunch”. Even when you don’t pay with cash, credit, or check…you still pay. So what is the price of all this free information?
The marketers that place their ads on our favorite websites hope that we’ll pay for all of our ‘free’ information on down the road when we go grocery shopping, plan a vacation, or even purchase our next vehicle. The hope is that even if you don’t click their ad, you’ll remember something about it. The name, logo, theme, or even just a color, and when you go shopping next time, you’ll choose their product over the competition.
So, is it a bad thing? I think no. I don’t mind banners and the occasional pop-up ad. I can close or ignore them, and occasionally click and shop from them. It keeps the ‘free’ information flowing, and seems a small price to pay.