Sunday, September 21, 2014

Someone ultimately pays — even to keep Facebook alive

12/18/2013

Changing times call for a new way of doing business because — despite many people’s desire for everything online to be free — free isn’t a sound business model. One of the leaders of free content (most supplied by its users) is Facebook. And now Facebook is experimenting with adding videos, also known as commercials, to its “news” feeds.

The commercials are being integrated into the news feeds of select users this week as a test of customers’ tolerance. The new video commercials will start automatically as users move among news feed messages, though the audio won’t be activated — yet. Once the user taps the video or enlarges it to full-screen, then the audio will come to full life (or at least as close as it gets online). With the prospect of generating $3 million per day in advertising income from the commercial, it’s unlikely that anything but an absolute uproar from users would stop the mammoth social networking company from forging ahead with its plans. The company believes users will enjoy the commercials so much that two additional commercials will display alongside the original ready for display once clicked, according to a report in the New York Times.

Changing times call for a new way of doing business because — despite many people’s desire for everything online to be free — free isn’t a sound business model. One of the leaders of free content (most supplied by its users) is Facebook. And now Facebook is experimenting with adding videos, also known as commercials, to its “news” feeds.

The commercials are being integrated into the news feeds of select users this week as a test of customers’ tolerance. The new video commercials will start automatically as users move among news feed messages, though the audio won’t be activated — yet. Once the user taps the video or enlarges it to full-screen, then the audio will come to full life (or at least as close as it gets online). With the prospect of generating $3 million per day in advertising income from the commercial, it’s unlikely that anything but an absolute uproar from users would stop the mammoth social networking company from forging ahead with its plans. The company believes users will enjoy the commercials so much that two additional commercials will display alongside the original ready for display once clicked, according to a report in the New York Times.

Those using computers might not complain as much — at least initially — because of the novelty, however, the slower download times will wear down some users. The loudest group though is expected to be mobile users who want to be in control of what data is consuming their precious mobile phone data allocations, rather than having the expensive time unexpectedly eaten up by unrequested commercial messages. For some, that unexpected data consumption will result in no or slower data consumption for the balance of the billing period or even worse — a big bill for exceeding the allocation.

Though users might complain about the changes, it’s unlikely they will be able to do much about it since they aren’t paying to use Facebook. The “free” business model never really was free — instead it was an illusion of what users were giving up: money, privacy, time, talent, convenience or a lack of real ownership. The commodity might vary, but all goods and service — sooner or later — come at a cost.

— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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