Facebook and advertising: why you shouldn’t complain

There was an announcement recently about the fact that Facebook was going to start embedding advertising content within its users’ news streams. This comes after its adverts have become more prevalent on the sidebar over recent months.

As expected, the announcement was met with general disgruntlement as users complained at Mr. Zuckerberg’s allegedly evil ways.

Perhaps the most vociferous response that I saw came from Ben, a friend whose use of Facebook surpasses in volume that of all of my other 241 ‘friends’.

Ben was right on some counts. He thinks Facebook is great because it creates interaction between people, provides freedom of thought and expression. I agree, although the fact that such freedom is less regulated than the content of other online media such as newspapers is open to question. (Why is it OK to defame or be libellous on Facebook but not in online newsprint?)

But Facebook costs money. Every time you upload a new profile picture, that costs money. Every time you update your status or comment on coo over someone’s pregnancy news, that costs money. And every time you chat with your friends, that costs money. I have no idea what the operating costs are of Facebook, but you can bet that their storage costs alone would make many a grown man faint.

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is not taking this decision purely to fund its operating costs. It is doing so to ensure that it builds a massive money-making machine. But whether it’s to make megabucks or whether it’s to cover its costs, the bottom line is that Facebook needs to bring in money.

And as I see it, there are four funding models that might be considered by Facebook:

Facebook has to go down path number four. And the most immediately obvious route to go down is that of advertising.

And I welcome that. As long as I am not duped into buying things that I wasn’t aware I was buying, then I see some advertising as a small price to pay for the value that Facebook brings. And if that advertising becomes too onerous, then I hope that I have sufficient nous to call it a day.

People need to stop seeing the web as something that’s run for free.

Every time an online venture tries to secure money, there is an uprising from its users. When Twitter introduced promoted hashtags, there was an uproar. When the Times newspaper introduced a paywall, there was an uproar. Gmail’s sponsored advertising made many of its users livid. And now Facebook’s expansion of its online advertising programme has prompted a similar response.

But with time, people see that the benefit of using the service outweighs the “cost” of putting up with advertising. And the users will remain. And if they don’t see that benefit, let’s hope they have the gumption to realise this and up and leave.

Comments

One Response to “Facebook and advertising: why you shouldn’t complain”

  1. BeCo on December 22nd, 2011 13:24

    Hello Dan.

    It’s the ‘vociferous’ Ben here. The more frequent Facebook addict of all your 242 ‘friends’ – the one who actually injects social networking sites into the base of his cock on a daily basis.

    Thank you for your direct message to me of the blog that you wrote about me and the conversation that we had yesterday (naturally when I was shooting up on Facebook). Also thank you for posting it onto your Facebook page and onto Twitter and thank you for saying that I was ‘right on some counts’. This was a heart-warming compliment that surpasses all those I have received in 36 years, 11 months, 3 weeks and 3 days.

    Firstly – it was a lovely piece of writing and indeed ‘a very good read’. Every day is a school day and I now have a greater understanding of the bank details Facebook. It is always useful for an addict to have a wider knowledge of his dealer’s finances. I don’t believe that Mark Zuckerberg is a man of ‘evil ways’ – I think he is a fella who is trying to finance/ make a profit without pissing off his guests.

    Here’s the problem (and the reason why we will never agree, my friend) – I despise advertising as a concept and how it has the unquestionable right to control and abuse everything that was once pure.

    I know that I’ve probably lost you now at this point and you’re probably thinking ‘communist junkie’. You may even say I’m a dreamer … but I’m not the only one. Just as I imagine that you don’t have much time for the cause of those involved in Occupy Wall Street or those in tents at Saint Pauls … you probably think that they and I are just silly-billies. Though I would argue that all are no sillier than an atheist.

    Where you have eloquently explained ‘Facebook and advertising: why you shouldn’t complain’ – my reply to you … ‘I like Facebook but I don’t like advertising and would like to complain.’ You have explained to me why something HAS to happen and I don’t like that it HAS to happen … with a fevered passion.

    Love ‘Vociferous Ben’ – the communist FB junkie and anti-advertising atheist x

    Ps: Here’s Father Carlin with a final thought …

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