The Future Webeconomy: Part 3

In the end, are people ever going to stop putting ads on the internet? Nope. They’re irresistible. If someone told me that I could get 1,000 more pageviews a day on this blog if I paid 5 bucks a month for a banner ad, I might consider it. It’s just so easy. But I know that I’ll never put ads on this blog or on any commercial web site I create. There has to be a better way.

As I write that, I realize that I haven’t really solved the problem. I’ve discussed ways to simulate window shopping on the web and ways to connect real-life ads and the web, but I haven’t determined how to market a single product or company on the internet without using banner ads.

Say you start an online company. You’re selling hats for cats that are filled with catnip (www.hatsforcats.com). You want to get the word out on the internet that this product exists. How do you do it? First, I’d say that you’d contact established sites like Amazon.com and pets.com to ask them to carry your product.

Second, you contact Google and buy a small-business ad so whenever someone searches for “cat accessories” or “cute feline clothing,” a link to your web site appears in the right margin. So far, so good. Nothing really obtrusive, and you have a way of reaching a customer who may never have heard of you.

But what’s the next level?

Here’s where you could sell out. You could buy a banner ad with a cute picture of a cat wearing a hat that appears on a variety of sites. That actually might be effective, but is it good for the internet? The webeconomy?

You could take a more direct approach–you could search for blogs and smaller web sites that are related or devoted to cats. You could contact the owners of those sites and ask them to put a self-designed ad on their site. This is more specific than a generic banner blast; I could see this working.

But there must be a better way. Isn’t there some way to let people know about your product or site without adding more ads to the internet? How do you let a hundred million IP addresses know that you exist?

I’ve been staring at my screen for 10 minutes now, and I still don’t have the answer. Maybe there is no answer–maybe the above steps are the only ways to keep the internet clutter to a minimum and still sell your product to a wide audience. If there was only some way to get people to register all of their interests and information so the relevant ads could come to them. But who would sign up for more ads? Nobody wants that.

I think I need to face the truth: I don’t have a solution. I hope this hasn’t been one big tease for you. If you have the answer, let me know. And if/when I think of it, I promise to post it here.


3 Responses to “The Future Webeconomy: Part 3”

  1. Josh says:

    You’re living in a crazy fantasy world, Jamey! Honestly, web ads are in a way good for the net because they allow content driven sites (those that don’t offer a product of service specifically) to exist and make money. Eliminating them would crush the webeconomy, turning the internet into simply a giant venue for blogs, Amazon, and subscription porn. I love all three of those things but come on, man!

    It would be like if network TV decided they would show no more commercials but instead make every channel cost a premium like HBO. Lives would crumble!

  2. DanM says:

    First, maybe you need more than 10 minutes of discovery time to find a solution. Second, maybe this is why people get paid big bucks to find solutions that don’t interrupt people’s lives but instead intersect, engage, or dare I say improve people’s lives. And while you’re wondering if an ad could ever improve someone’s life, think of all the public service announcements out there. Or as slimy as they may seem, those lawyer ads for people exposed to asbestos. Sure they are advertising their business and that they are clearly drumming up a class action lawsuit that will hopefully fund the rest of their life in the Bahamas. But for those people that maybe didn’t get the news, or maybe for those that did get the news about the dangers their construction career in the 80s put them in, now they know where to go to do something about it.

    That was a longer tangent than I meant to take. Why pay someone for ad space at all? Why not create a viral video about hats on cats that will hopefully be spread to millions on its own merit of humor. Or better yet, create a landing page on your website, and a competition for people to submit their own videos. Using user generated content to spread the message as more and more people share their videos and that their doing it to win a hat for their cat. Wait, while you’re there, why don’t you also vote or spread the word and ask other people to vote for you.

    I realize I’m way behind and this entry was written in 2008. But now in 2011, forget paying for an ad. How about I just give you a hat for your cat, and in exchange you write a blog post about it saying whatever you want. Of course, it’d work better if I chose a blogger who talked about their cat often or I could tell had loads of cat owning followers.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      I don’t know how you even found this entry, but well done doing so.

      These are some good points. What’s the most brilliant web-based marketing strategy you’ve ever seen?

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