Web Advertising

Display ads on the web seem to be in something of an arms race (display ads are like the ones on the right side of this post; they are not the same as search ads, which you see when you do a web search). People browsing the web get better and better at ignoring display ads. The ads get more and more intrusive. Browsers give you more options to block them.

There are only two ways that an advertising arms race can end: no ads or no viewers. You can’t force people to pay attention. If the ads get too annoying, they will stop looking at your web site at all.

As the moment the major revenue source for many web sites is display ads. For most web sites, nothing else has worked. As display ads become less effective, it is likely that web site revenue will start going down. This is hardly a major disaster, but people do get some small benefit from the web sites they visit. Unfortunately it’s proven to be difficult to turn that small benefit into money. For those web sites which depend on a revenue stream, is there any way to keep them alive if advertising stops working?

(This certainly doesn’t imply the end of the web. Many useful web sites are created with no revenue source at all. Even the worst case scenario is just the end of a small part of the web.)

As far as I know making money by advertising is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating back to around 1900 or so. I expect that there are other ways to capture value as a revenue source. I just don’t know what they are.

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