The Internet Isn’t Free

The internet isn't freeNewsflash: The internet isn’t free. Recently, a company called AdTrap announced that they have devised a method of blocking nearly all advertisements online. From Google (including YouTube) to news sites, text and display advertising is eliminated. Your “privacy is protected” and you “can’t be profiled by advertisers”. No more ads to interrupt your experience. No more videos to watch before you watch your videos.

Sounds great.

Who Pays for the Internet?

Just one problem – those ads pay for the internet. Google isn’t free. CNN isn’t free. YouTube isn’t free. Facebook isn’t free. The internet isn’t free. Websites cost money. So how much are you willing to pay?

$1.00 every time you want to log onto Facebook?
$0.25 for every Google search?
$2.99 for every news story?
$0.50 for every sport score?

Best of all – how much would you be willing to pay per email? At just $0.10 for every send AND receive (remember, your cell phone is billed for incoming AND outgoing calls), those charges will quickly add up every month.

Most of the internet is paid for by advertising. Millions of companies support the efforts and results of billions of websites. There must be a compromise between users and providers.

The Value of Advertising

Advertisers and their ad agencies, like Arkside Marketing (shameless plug), are always looking for new ways to reach you…but not for the reasons or with the methods you might think.

You are not a target because you are alive. Companies only want to reach you if they believe you can use their product or service. If they broadcast to everyone, it would be a waste of money. Companies don’t like wasting money when it comes to advertising. When I’m consulting with a client, I help them build a customer profile of the ideal person who might respond to an ad and use their product or service. That helps shape a marketing strategy.

As I’ve said on this blog before, people would be amazed at how much data is anonymously (usually) collected about them. Google and other companies with similar goals to serve up advertising know A LOT about you. Age range, favorite foods, sports, family size, ethnicity, photos, recent purchases, banking patterns, bills, email address…the list goes on and on. In most cases, none of this is connected with your name. You’re a profile. A demographic. And that’s really all advertising needs to be useful to you and the advertiser.

Advertising Is Necessary Because The Internet Isn’t Free

You currently pay a telecommunications company to access everything on the internet. One website or one million, your price of admission is the same. Advertising ensures that most sites you want don’t cost you anything more. You can search, share, learn, and teach for free because advertisers want to share their product or service with you. So instead of paying a dollar for every video you watch on YouTube or song you hear on Pandora, you have to watch or listen to a :15-second ad. Is that really so hard to do?

Would you be willing to pay for everything you do on the internet? Share your comment below.


  1. Sheila Cannon

    Great article! I shudder to think if I was charged for each of the 100+ emails I get every day! Yes, the ads are worth it and I find most are not too intrusive.

    As an advertiser myself, I appreciate being able to reach a targeted market, to find the people who are most likely to need my service.

    1. Nathan Greenberg

      Thanks, Sheila! It is that ability to TARGET your ads that make them so valuable and as unobtrusive as possible.

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