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Life For Free (as long as the poor keep buying) | Ad(non)Sense

FbPerhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by the news today that Virgin Atlantic are soon to announce a free trans-atlantic service. On each flight, a small number of fee-free passengers will simply have to put up with being pinned into their seats having commercials fired at them for the entire trip. Like the NYT, the WSJ and London’s FT, they are simply following the same business model that makes a free-to-use site like Facebook ‘over $10bn‘: we get life without paying, as long as we put up with commercials.

I could use a ‘free’ platform with ads. I could get my subs for Typepad
lessened with Google ads in a sidebar. Well this space is not for sale.
OK, you can follow a link to buy my book, but I hope that’s not beyond
the pale.

Why don’t I like side-bar ads? Because I know that somebody
is paying. When Facebook is worth 10bn, that means 10bn worth of ads,
and that means 10bn worth of people clicking to buy stuff they didn’t
know they needed. So if you like you can join my group: I’d rather pay for Facebook than have all the dumb ads.

As previously posted here, advertising ‘makes us all poor‘;
but it also makes the poor, poorer. It’s not the financially sensible
who click on the sidebar ads. Ads tantalize. Deliberately. They infect
us with thoughts that without their product, we are no good. This
cannot be a price worth (not) paying. Nothing is truly free. Someone
has to pay somewhere – it’s just that it’s not so likely to be us. We
go free, while others click and pick up the tab for us. And with a
global debt crisis like we’ve got, that makes me sick.

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9 comments to Life For Free (as long as the poor keep buying) | Ad(non)Sense

  • A friend, in an IM conversation last night, following attendance at an “emergent” event here in the States:
    “…a cool pitch, but still a pitch. the kingdom has to be other than a pitch, no? i don’t know. maybe we are at the point culturally where the pitch is our lot, our hell, the price we pay for fucking around with capitalism in the first place.”
    I’ll let him be anonymous for now, having pasted IM comments into a public blog; but I couldn’t have said it better myself; I’ll let him take credit if he wants…

  • Hey Kester,
    I just finished “Signs of Emergence.” Great book! I’m hoping to start posting some blog reflections on it soon. I hope you don’t leave the “emerging” conversation before your influence is able to be fully felt!
    Anyway, while I agree with your statement that advertising makes us all poor and often preys on the poor among us, I have to say overall I think I disagree with you about this Facebook thing. (Sorry I won’t be joining your group …) I commend your idealism, but I guess I feel like suggesting that people should fight capitalism is a little like suggesting people should breathe using something other than oxygen. I’m not saying capitalism is “good” and “life-giving.” I’m just saying the world is ornamented and arranged in such a way that capitalism is a part of the deal and we ought to be conscious of it (yes) and concerned about not becoming swept up by it (yes), but fighting it, trying to stand against it, starting a “revolution” to overthrow it? These things just don’t make sense to me. But, hey, maybe that’s just me talking — with three kids and a wife who wishes I made a lot more money than I do working for a Christian mission! :-)
    Besides, I think Facebook’s advertising (at least up until recently) has been far more tasteful and unobtrusive than other social network sites (ahem, MySpace?!) so I haven’t really noticed it or minded it. Besides, Facebook is “worth” $10B because of the community (the people, you and me), and it’s because of that large and growing community that they can make money selling advertising.
    Daniel, I’d be curious to know more about your friend’s thoughts following the “emergent” event (what it was and what they were reacting to specifically).
    Shalom,
    Steve K.

  • I’m gonna start a group called ‘stop kester creating more facebook groups’ ;-)

  • A man creates two groups and suddenly it’s a movement with a backlash. Sounds like the emerging church to me ;-)

  • Ummm…in noticing your ad for your book – I’d like to get it. Apart from spelling, is there any difference between US and UK version? (I live in Ireland)
    Thanks!

  • If you’re in Ireland I’d probably get the UK version. Depends what Amazon or similar can do, but I’d have thought the US version would take longer to deliver, and may be more expensive to post?
    Glad the ads are working ;-)

  • when you say that ads are particularly bad for the poor, the way you say it makes it sound as if this is because the poor don’t know any better than to click on the button.
    but
    1) it isn’t the clicking on the button that costs the money, and
    2) the poor aren’t any stupider than the rich.

  • Say one in a hundred people – regardless of income bracket – click the ad and end up purchasing. Those with less disposable income – the poorer – are impacted more by that spend because it’s a greater proportion of the money they have available. The poor may not be more stupid, but advertising costs them more, and its ubiquity is thus unfair on them.
    Moreover, much – not all – advertising is based on the premise of a ‘lifestyle offer’. Buy this and you will be beautiful, healthy, cool etc. etc… It tantalises, and makes us feel we are worse people without these things. Thus – as David Shepherd put it – advertising makes us all poor.
    And, while the poor may be as equally stupid as the rich, my experience of working in schools suggests to me that the poor are more susceptible to the tantalizing effects of advertising. And this is not surprising. With all this dangled in front of you every time you get on a bus, open a paper, surf a ‘free’ website or turn on the TV, who wouldn’t be affected?

  • Damn, I never noticed FaceBook had adverts. With MySpace there’s no escaping them.
    I like the Loans ads on kids TV. Sensible that.