Don’t Write an Email—Close Your Browser!

by on December 20, 2009 · 7 comments

If you don’t like sharing information about your interests with content publishers so they can sell advertisers a chance to win your attention, your remedy is closing your browser. It’s that simple.

But writer Kevin Kelleher has an economically challenged piece on WashingtonPost.com suggesting that Internet users should try to charge content providers money.

He says users should email web companies the following terms: “By collecting, storing, selling, trading, reselling or exploiting for any commercial purposes any information about me, your site agrees to pay me a licensing fee of $100 per month.”

That’s a non-starter from the get-go because users might be worth $10 per year, depending on the company. Negotiating a deal where your use is actually tracked, a price is negotiated, and a payment is securely made would be more privacy invasive than the current state of affairs.

And that model has already been tried. It was called AllAdvantage.com. If ad rates rise again, an “infomediary” might be viable again, but we won’t get there with a silly “campaign” to undo the interest-data-for-content deal.

If you don’t like it, you can just close your browser, or pick carefully among the services that don’t use advertising (like Twitter, so far). That’s a perfectly acceptable choice, and life can be lived well without free Internet-based content.

So, go ahead! Live your values! Walk your talk! Close your browser.

  • nasrullah

    i want to be as member.

  • nasrullah

    i want to be as a member.

  • http://techliberation.com/author/berinszoka/ Berin Szoka

    Yes, it's simply outrageous that these “infomediaries” Just take and take and take our data without giving anything back. I mean, it's unconscionable that users don't get anything in return in the current online ecosystem—like, oh, I don't know, maybe billions of dollars worth of ad-supported content and services?

    Does Kevin really not understand that users are already being “paid” for their data through the endless variety of offerings made available to them for free?

    Microsoft has already tried paying users small amounts for using its Bing search engine. it's a great concept, and I wish them well and using that as a competitive edge over Google. But there is a simple economic reason “infomediaries” don't generally pay users: they are spending that money paying publishers! And although Kevin would have you think the Internet's “big dogs” are just sitting on huge piles of money, what's marketable about online advertising revenue is not how big it is, but small. Search engines pulled in just $10.5 billion in 2008, and total display-related spending (on ads sold by publishers) was just $7.6 billion. To put those numbers in perspective, they equate to just $46/year for search and $33/year for display for America's 227 million estimated Internet users. In short, there is no huge pot of gold that evil advertising companies are hoarding from consumers. What gold there is being fed to the goose (ad-supported publishers) that keeps on laying golden eggs for users (creative content and innovative services).

  • http://techliberation.com/author/berinszoka/ Berin Szoka

    Yes, it's simply outrageous that these “infomediaries” Just take and take and take our data without giving anything back. I mean, it's unconscionable that users don't get anything in return in the current online ecosystem—like, oh, I don't know, maybe billions of dollars worth of ad-supported content and services?

    Does Kevin really not understand that users are already being “paid” for their data through the endless variety of offerings made available to them for free?

    Microsoft has already tried paying users small amounts for using its Bing search engine. it's a great concept, and I wish them well and using that as a competitive edge over Google. But there is a simple economic reason “infomediaries” don't generally pay users: they are spending that money paying publishers! And although Kevin would have you think the Internet's “big dogs” are just sitting on huge piles of money, what's marketable about online advertising revenue is not how big it is, but small. Search engines pulled in just $10.5 billion in 2008, and total display-related spending (on ads sold by publishers) was just $7.6 billion. To put those numbers in perspective, they equate to just $46/year for search and $33/year for display for America's 227 million estimated Internet users. In short, there is no huge pot of gold that evil advertising companies are hoarding from consumers. What gold there is being fed to the goose (ad-supported publishers) that keeps on laying golden eggs for users (creative content and innovative services).

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