The NYTimes asked whether we are “living in a Google World, where everything is free thanks to the advertising that can be generated by people using the Google tools.” Is there a free ad-supported Porsche in your future? Or maybe even free tummy tucks in return for tattooing ads on your forehead. There probably are limits although I wonder now that I see ads everywhere from television screens in the back of taxis to office building lobbies. The bathroom is about the only place that’s safe and even there I wonder how long it will be before there are screens on the stall doors.
Google—and the rivals nipping at its fast-fleeing heels—will end up subsidizing lots of things with its advertising revenue. But my guess is there’ll be some limits. First, its only going to be on Internet-connected devices and practically speaking, that basically means everything you see on PCs, mobile phones, and televisions—and maybe even on the screen in the cockpit of the Porsche. So while I wouldn’t exclude the ad-supported tummy tuck I doubt it will be Google behind it. Second, it is probably content—broadly defined—that will end up being free. Whether there’s enough money left over to give away free mobile phone service remains to be seen. I wouldn’t wait for the free Porsche though. Third, an interesting question is where the limits are to placing and targeting ads. It isn’t clear how effective advertising will be on social networking sites—as the Facebook debacle suggests, there’s lots more trial and error to be done there. The same is true for software and other things that Google is giving away for free.
What Google and its competitors will do is displace a lot of the advertising we’re seeing now. As more advertising moves to Internet-connected devices, the scattergun approach that advertisers take—blast messages out to millions of people in the hopes that a few may actually be interested—will be used less and less. One final thought—as we’ve been all taught there is no such thing as a free lunch. One of the things people have started realizing is that all that free content on the web comes at a price—giving Google and others a humongous amount of information about yourself. And of course advertising is just a cost of doing business which gets passed on in the price of goods and services.
Would love to hear if others think there’s a natural limit to where Google ads appear and what sorts of goods and services will become free.
Print This Post Email This Post
Filed Under: Digital Media, Mobile, Publishing, Internet-Based, Ad-Supported, New Business Models, Technology, Social Networks, privacy, consumers, Search engines