There is a big storm brewing on the Web right now and it all has to do as usual with advertising. You know, that thing that helps keep all the great warm and fuzzy Web 2.0ish social media electronic hippie-dom flowing like a never ending bottle of Sonoma wine as recommended by Garry V free for all to use?
Ya. Advertising. The ugly underappreciated and often hated advertising. Well at least when it isn’t VC dollars propping these web wunderkind up until the advertising dollars start to flow.
I use to get really irritated at people who would say how much they hate advertising for whatever reason, and believe me I’ve heard them all, and yet they still want to keep on using all these free web apps. Uhm. Excuse me. Are you the only one allowed to earn a living for your work?
It would seem so given the attitude about companies (or bloggers) that use advertising on the web as a way to pay the bills, feed the family, contribute to society. No. This is wrong. This is evil.
They’re suppose to do it for free I guess.
A lot of this was brought to a head this weekend by our usual bitchmeme villain – Robert Scoble who kicked it off with the announcement that yes folks, Twitter will be going down the advertising road (like we didn’t see that happening). In a move that only stoked the already build fires of the angry townspeople looking for some monster to burn at the stake in a move to purify the rarified air of the blogosphere Robert continued his thoughts on Twitter advertising.
In the above linked post Robert uses Chris Pirillo as a good example of the effect of too much advertising or not not disclosing what it is you are doing
With Pirillo there is some value. So, I might follow him even though he does fill his stream with crappy ads and treats us pretty badly by not always disclosing what he’s getting paid for and what he just is putting in the stream because he’s excited. But with the other guy tonight all I saw were ads. So, I unfollowed and won’t be looking back. Actually I unfollowed Pirillo too. I don’t think he’s disclosed everything clearly or explained where his ads were coming from and until he does I’ll stay away.
Now I’ve never followed Chris on Twitter and only recently unsubscribed from his blog mainly because there was no more value for me in sticking with him. Sure there might be a lot of people who like his non-stop pushing of products and badly formatted blog posts via RSS but in my case enough was enough.
You see that is the problem with advertising on the web. People’s threshold levels are all different. Where one person will have no problem with Pirillo’s level of commercialism another person will threaten to block you if they see a single ad come over your Twitter stream.
I realize that advertising is a really touchy subject – especially when you toss in the discussion the idea of bloggers using Twitter as another way to earn an income stream from their brand / work. I’ve been using Magpie for some time now and like everything else a large degree of respect and understand of your readers is paramount when using ads.
Currently I have Magpie set to one ad (if there are any in the pipeline) for every five Twitter messages I put out. Now on the surface I can see a whole bunch of mealy mouth better than thou folks start ranting and raving about abusing my followers with that kind of ratios.
The only thing is that I’m lucky if in a single day I post more that five or six messages in total which means that if there were any ads in the pipeline the most my followers would see is 1 maybe 2 ads in a 16 to 18 hour period. So you point out that would change if you started tweeting more. No. Because if that happens I would change the ratio to a fairer number if only out of respect for my readers / followers.
Look, the point is here that advertising is an inescapable part of the web – especially if you all want to keep on using all the free shit out there. Sure it will get abused because just as there are responsible people out there trying to earn a decent living there are those who will abuse the system because they are nothing but a bunch of dicks.
This shouldn’t have people wholesale blocking or chastising those running ads if in fact they are doing it properly; and especially if it can benefit our followers as Robert quiet rightly pointed out in both his posts.
Look there are a whole boatload of people who are ardent fans of Brightkite and Foursquare but I and others think that services like this do nothing but pollute Twitter with useless information. Just because we feel this way does it make those things any less valuable to someone?
Just as there are people who find value in following and reading Chris Pirillo there are people who think that if done right advertising on Twitter could be an acceptable deal for the use of a free service. Think not? Then talk to one of the most ardent anti-advertising in the blogosphere people around. If Louis Gray can stand back and re-evaluate his position then maybe folks should chill out for a bit before pressing the Block link.
image: Savage Chickens