for the Little Guy 101
this scenario. You have UNLIMITED real estate in a town with no
borders that everyone on the planet (everyone on the planet with
money, that is) can get to. You say to yourself, "what the
hell," and go into business. You have no idea what you're doing,
but you tell some venture capitalists that you are a storeowner
in this town and you can conceivably have millions of customers.
So they give you a few million bucks, and you go out and hire a
bunch of monkeys to make your widgets.
A few months
go by and you realize nobody is buying the widgets.
You have to
have some sort of revenue, so you decide to talk to some other guy
next door, who sells similar widgets and, similarly, has no customers.
So you decide that you're gonna let your buddy put a banner up for
his store on your store, and vice-versa. Now you're making some
money off of this guy and he's making some money off of you
is actually moving. After a while, being the brilliant mathematical
mind that you are (that's why you're in business, right?) you realize
that this game of tit-for-tat is fooling your financial investors
for a little while, but you're still not making any money.
is buying the widgets.
You figure you
need more reach
there are way too many competitors out there.
But how can you possibly get your banner plastered all over everybody
else's stores? And how much room can you afford to give to your
fellow online entrepreneurs on your storefront? You go to the guy
who puts up the posters and he tells you that he can help you out
put your banner all over the place! Not only that, he'll also handle
putting up banners on your storefront. Seeing as you have no customers,
you shell out a few hundred thousand to this guy. Time goes by
entire town is plastered with banners for stores that sell widgets
(99% useless widgets, mind you)
Nobody is buying
the widgets, and now you're almost broke.
In a last-ditch
effort, you spend the rest of your cash on some cheap whores, throw
out all the widgets, and plaster your store with porn. Your buddy
next door follows suit.
is a dump. It's covered with huge, flashing advertisements and banners,
and there are only three types of items for sale: Whores, dildos,
and hardcore porn. But you're in business and you're giving the
people what they want
and you don't even have to give anything
away for free any more! Does this scenario sound familiar? Didn't
that happen to 42nd street a little while ago? Didn't we learn?
Apparently not! For some reason, we thought the online world was
a place of elves and fairies, and not voyeuristic bestiality fetishists.
What a reality-check, huh? Well
the good news is that we were
able to clean up 42nd street. The bad news is, we needed to do it
with equal parts fascism, physical force, and brand advertising
on a scale that makes the Great Wall of China look like one of those
tongue depressor models you made in kindergarten. In any case, this
does bode well for some of the big internet players out there. And
the few people who are smart enough to steer WAY clear of Times
Square when they visit New York will be the ones who will stay the
hell away from the big web sites. Unfortunately, we know how people
operate - especially Americans. So what does this mean for the internet?
We'll let you decide.
be fair. As we all know, there was a time when all looked rosy for
our shop-owner friend. You see, some of the shop owners were smart.
They realized sooner than most that no one wanted their widgets.
They also realized that widgets, whether in the form of original
online content or actual products, cost money to make. Why bother?
Our smart shop-owner realized he could only make money by selling
advertising. And the more people who came by his store and looked
around, the more these ad sellers (the banner guys) wanted to pay
the shop-owner to put ads on his storefront. The shop-owner decides
it's smarter to throw out the widgets and instead put pictures of
bare breasts, lewd jokes, and gambling machines around his shop.
The more people that hang out, the bigger his "store"
gets, and the more banners he can hang up. He can even put really
attractive breasts up instead of average breasts and people actually
pay him to come and hang around! Wow
he's finally making money
these poor advertisers! Don't they realize nobody sees the banners?
We don't want
to get into a serious discussion about branding and advertising
here, but the point is this: the web publishers who were smart took
the advertisers for all they were worth. And the advertisers and
ad sales people who were smart took their clients for all they were
sounds like good ol' every day American business,
huh? One big difference
this was Generation X we were taking
advantage of, kiddies
a veritable army of naïveté!
A gaggle of amateurs fresh out of school and ready to be jerked
around - or better yet, employed and worked to death! The technology
and society came together at just the right time
Storm", so to speak. A once-in-a-lifetime occurrence!
But alas! What
happened? We were doing so well! We had a new vehicle for advertising.
We had the money. We had the advertisers. We had unlimited "real
estate" to work with. We even knew how to measure the effectiveness
of our advertising efforts. Ah
perhaps this was the problem.
With unlimited real estate, limited customers, and the fact that
one could now measure how ineffective advertising really was, we
were in for a little lesson about how the internet and advertising