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Net Monks

August 17, 2004

We sat in on a sales call that went south today. The prospect cut the meeting short with a clear sense of indignation: “We are philosophically opposed to putting advertisements on our site. We believe that people should be able to enjoy the Net without having to be subjected to pop-ups and crazy banners.”
Had this conversation been about advertising on radio, TV, or other mediums, we would be certain that our prospect had cracked, but here on the Internet, the embrace of altruistic business models endures.
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We flashback to 1994, when Hotwired launched the first banner ad and Netizens complained that the Net’s purity had been soiled, reverting to their mantra that ‘information wants to be free.’ Again, in 1998, when Overture, then GoTo.net, launched the paid search model, Netizens were certain that the concept would go up in flames.
But you can’t have it both ways. If people want good content, someone’s got to pay for it – either an advertiser or a subscriber. The ‘information wants to be free’ ideal is just that: an ideal. We look forward to the day when the idée fixe of Net purists collapses upon itself. Television advertising has evolved to a point where many Americans are more interested in ads than America’s biggest sporting event – the SuperBowl. Internet advertising is sure to improve as well.

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