The Problem with Web Advertising.
Shortly after graphics
made their way onto the web, web pages started selling space to run banner
ads. Attempting to generate more click throughs from these ads, designers
created increasingly flashier ads. At first there was the simple animated
GIF. Now there is the "Punch the Monkey" ad that lets you interact with it
by bludgeoning a primate as it frantically runs back and forth. As fun as
this is, many web surfers feel that these ads distract from the content that
they want on the web page. Users have learned to ignore flashy ads. Studies
show that the user's eye is usually drawn away from the ad, and might not
even notice it at all.
Other problems facing the advertiser are new
programs that block the computer's web browser from even downloading advertisements,
so these cleverly designed ads are never seen by the web surfer. This raises
ethical issues. Should you take information that a web page has provided
you without also taking the opportunity to hammer the monkey a good one in
the mouth (humor aside, an action that the web page's owner hopes will make
him money). Proponents of these programs bring up the greatly reduced download
times when you do not download these ads. This saves companies money by allowing
their employees to be more efficient. Many of these companies are the same
ones who advertise on the web. They might save more money by increased employee
efficiency than they lose by people not seeing their ads.
A New Economic Economic Model - Payment Based Web Services.
In the past few years, experts have questioned the effectiveness
of ads, causing those who had advertised on the web to buy less ad space.
Many startup companies generated most of their revenue by running banner
ads on their web pages, and went out of business as a result. The web is
looking for a new economic model.
Many web sites are going to a subscription
model where some, or even all, of their content can only be accessed
by paying customers. This lets customers get the content they want without
the distractions of banner ads, but it is an all or nothing deal. You can't
pay a smaller amount to access just a few pages on the site.
Jakob Nielsen proposed a micro-payment system
where you are charged a small amount (probably a cent or even fraction of
a cent) for every page you view. He estimates that the average web surfer
would run up a bill of $10 - $30 a month. This is low enough to keep you
from weighing too heavily on the decision to look at a page, and it would
allow the web site's owner to make money without forcing horrid banner ads
Some people raise ethical questions about charging for a web page,
saying that information should be free. Others point out that it costs to
host this information, and those who benefit from it should pay these costs.
People who think it should be free claim that advertisements should pay for
these costs, not users who are gathering the information.