Opening the Saturday morning session at Gnomedex, blogging pioneer Dave Winer declared that "ads on Web sites are not part of economy we are living in now." His notion is that each person's Web site is a form of advertising. "You can find out who shares the same interests and wants, visions and dreams and with that make products for each other," Dave said.
Dave Winer: No ads on Web sites
Dave sees the user community gaining influence over what products enter markets. In the software industry, for example, users have the ability to create product from the bottom up, but Dave has a bigger vision. "Engadget is users publishing, but how long before they figure out what products should be made before the manufacturers?," he asked. Users can go to the manufacturers with an idea, perhaps provide some financing, take care of the marketing and share in the profits, Dave said. "If manufacturers have a future, it will be as fullfillment houses for the visionaries who are users...and the bloggers will be the smartest ones," Dave said.
Steve Gillmor agrees with Dave's overall vision, but thinks he misses the point in saying that advertising on Web sites are passe. "Advertising is a wrapper around micropayments, and as such, will continue to finesse the distance between subscriptions and sponsorships," Steve said. You pay for Web content via subscription or advertising. Subscription is essentially a micropayment, which is only tolerated by bundling an aggregation of many instance of micropayment, such as the way your electric bill doesn't break out how much your refrigator costs to run. You get one bill. In effect, advertising subsidizes micropayments by presenting a single interface and sponsorships become a way of aggregating advertising and supporting the Network's move toward information, included ad content, finding people than the other way around.
Did you get that? Steve advises reading it over carefully and repeatedly until sleep intrudes. Note that ZDNet blogs are ad-supported, and we happily pay bloggers for their work. If new models emerge, such as Dave's vision, we'll adopt it if it works for all those in the food chain...
Footnote: Dave Winer prescient post from February 13, 2001
Remember Dell Computer started in Michael's dorm room. There's no reason new companies can't start on the Web. All it takes is the will to do it. And after computers every product that has an embedded computer will shift to user design. Today's companies become fulfillment houses, building products on contract. Manufacturing margins will shrink, the real value will be in the insight -- this is what people want now -- and the risk taken that today few manufacturers seem willing to take.
But listening to users is actually not that easy. It's easier to *be* a user and make products for other users. And that my friends, the combination of user-based information exchange and products that reflect user experience and wants, is where money will be made on the Internet.