Sumit Sharma

Aggregators and Advertisers: they’ll need to behave

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It should be noted that there are plenty of ways to abuse the system that infringe on rules of ethics. Especially in the case of aggregators who make their money from advertising, they will need to be cautious with providing credible information (including advertising). For example, Yahoo displayed some interesting headline links on their page, and it was, intentionally or not, looking like it was part of the Yahoo page though there were in reality some advertisements. This is counterproductive for several reasons. Firstly, the advertising company is just being dishonest in its presentation and has the potential to alienate and frustrate users. Its one thing to advertise next to a legitimate article but totally different to mask a link as an article when its really an advertisement. Second, because this product’s page will go down into my history of pages visited, it will become a part of my virtual persona and might further frustrate a user through spam mail or more similar advertisements – It contributes towards a falsification of who I am.

The control migrated from the user to the provider in such instances– which brings up the interesting argument of when can we trust the providers/aggregators to provide us with meaningful information. We need to distinguish between advertising that can be potentially predatory in nature and meaningful information. This point shouldn’t be taken lightly because until aggregators find a source of income other then advertising, Internet advertising will only become a mainstay and these aggregators will continue to be incented to include ads on their pages in any little space possible.

Such advertising can result in a snowballing effect of making the internet into a worse place, clogged with toxic information such as predatory advertisements. Take the case of online gaming where players, typically teenagers without cash, will click on an offer is a CPA advertisement that users complete in exchange for in-game virtual currency. This in turn may lead to additional advertising revenues which will get plugged right back into the ecosystem, as noted by Michael Arrington, editor of TechCrunch, and in such cases, it only fosters an ecosystem of low quality advertisers. This was evidenced by Mark Pincus, fonder of Zynga, who admitted that he “did everything he could to get revenues” in the initial stages when Zynga was starting up and desperately needed funds to survive.

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Written by Sumit

November 10, 2009 at 7:09 am

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