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Chris Graham: No free lunch

Enjoy it while you can – it being free stuff on the ‘Net. Free stuff being free information – free magazine content, free newspapers, free Facebook.

i say this to those who have been expressing to me their increasing frustration over web ads. You hear it a lot on Facebook, which has a great business model working in terms of market penetration with the obvious issue being the ability to monetize in its current format, save for selling ads that can appear as unobtrusively as possible in feeds and on home pages.

One marketing client told me excitedly about an ad-blocking program he’d downloaded off the Internet that blocks everything – from ads on Facebook to ads on news websites (including

To which I said, Great, as long as you recognize that you’re helping pave the road to an Internet in which the only thing that is available for free is that which is marketing-oriented.

Think about it. Content producers are already hemorrhaging monies under the current system, in which they give away everything for free in hopes of building good page ranks and unique-visitor counts that will attract advertisers to pay them money to access the numbers of eyeballs that they can offer.

If advertising doesn’t pay the bills, there’s only one other source of revenues for the content set – and that involves putting content behind paywalls.

Think cable TV, and you’re getting close. You want to read ESPN for your morning sports fix? That might cost you 99 cents one time, maybe $2.99 a month. Want your local news online? The price point might be lower, but you’re still going to pay.

The more that moves behind pay walls, the less there is out there that is available for free that’s worth more than what you’re paying for it.

Pretty much, you get your neighbor’s blog on politics or what his cat had for breakfast, or attempts by businesses small and large to get their message out to potential customers and clients.

Just as long as you realize you’ve been forewarned …

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