Thinking About “Free”

I had not thought about the long-term viability of advertising until Tuesday night’s Net Economics class. I think in my lifetime ads will not disappear, but they will continue to change. Maybe we’ll have more sponsored content, like early radio (and PBS), instead of interruptive adverts. And there will be more “free” content like Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2009 Emmy, wikipedia).

Three tidbits that I’m keeping in my toolbox to help explain what’s happening today:

  • The internet connected hard drives, social media technologies connect minds.
  • Skill sets have a topple rate (half life is getting shorter) just like businesses.
  • We no longer have to till the soil every day in order to survive. Today, most of us till information instead. That is our job, to make decisions about information.

Some interesting links since Tuesday:

  • Guy Kawasaki held a “revenue bootcamp” in July. In this video of the first session, panelists (two high school students, two recent college graduates, youth culture expert) explore the question: Will Anyone Pay For Anything? Data from WeWorld on what teens would pay for: (1) things that are really fun, 34%, (2) expressing themselves and their passions, 22%, (3) getting more access and making themselves look good, 13%, and (4) exclusivity, 11%, (5) things that they could send to their friends, 8% .
  • Chris Anderson also spoke at “revenue bookcamp” about Free: The Future of a Radical Price.
  • Game publishers worry about the iPhone putting downward pressure on prices.
  • Danny Sullivan dissects WSJ managing editor Robert Tomson’s indictment of Google. I’m being kind with both verbs. I’m also cheering Danny’s post.
  • Life beyond print. Northwestern University surveyed 3800 journalists at 79 newspapers about the digital transformation of the newsroom.

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

7 replies on “Thinking About “Free””

Comment posted on Facebook:

In class, we talked about “perfectly competitive markets” (our guest speaker brought this up!) and its premise that buyers and sellers have access to all information necessary to make a decision to buy or sell. He talked about the internet as a tool that moves us toward perfect information. Think PriceGrabber or – for things that can be bought “on price” the Internet already facilitates this.

The ecosystem of social media word-of-mouth plus corporate websites plus reviews (MSM and blogs) could become “rich enough” in content that ads would not be needed for product awareness, assuming personal intelligent bots that “find” stuff for us.

Ads exist because of imperfect markets (imperfect access to information) and have as part of their reason for existence the creation of imperfection (product differentiation creates a market where Product A is not a perfect substitute for Product B in the mind of the buyer).

Some visions of the future in scifi have no ads (think StarTrek and StarWars, IIRC) and others envision a world where they are even more intrusive (think Bladerunner).

Not sure I’d call the WSJ guy a nerd. I’d call him a suit. ;-) After watching the video, I’ve decided the ‘promiscuous’ phrase was practiced, not ad lib. It sounded really odd in a British accent.

Thanks for the links Kathy. Sullivan’s address to WSJ: wow. I love it when nerds start calling each other sluts.

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