Dilemma of Online Advertising for the Small Business

DILEMMA OF ONLINE ADVERTISING FOR THE SMALL BUSINESS – Earlier in the week we received an email from one of our dedicated readers; she pointed out that meebal.com would have more validity and credibility if it didn’t display Google Ads in the sidebar.

In many people’s eyes Google has become far too powerful; in fact many feel that Google now effectively controls and polices the internet and anything it doesn’t like it suppresses to a point where no one can find it.

In our view there’s a certain degree of truth in these concerns for certainly Google continues to update and develop new ‘algorithms’ which determines what pages are delivered in its search results each time a search query is made by a user.

A few days ago whilst trawling through the news and videos we once again ended up viewing one of Pat Condell’s video.  In the video he stated that a number of people have asked him why he doesn’t allow advertising on his YouTube videos; after all such is the volume of viewers he could in fact make a sizeable amount of money.

Pat’s response was a typical response from those who support the ideology that advertising taints content and therefore most producers of online content will actively create content that has the potential to yield high returns from the advertising that accompanies it.

It is of course a principle that we at meebal.com support and whilst we do display Google Ads in the sidebar we actively refrain from writing content specifically targeted towards advertising.

Over the last 18 months we’ve been approached by hundreds of ‘article writers’ whose job it is to create mostly spun content with the remit of having it published with a clients web link.

It is big business and we’ve been offered anything from £10 to a £100 a time for publishing such content; on each occasion however, we have turned down the requests because this would, in our view, seriously taint the content that we publish.

Of course you may not like meebal.com; it certainly has been lauded by our fans as being one of a few news related services that has the spine to tell the truth and address issues and provide a viewpoint that most mainstream news service dare not.  On the opposite side of the coin we’ve been condemned for producing content of little worth.

If you asked members of the public their views on advertising most would likely tell you that it’s the stain on media and one that is wholly inescapable, although such is the prevalence most simply now ignore it.

In our view advertising is the ability to create a convincing lie; that is it is the job of the advertising executives is to come up with something wholly implausible and make it appear to be a fact and ultimately a fact that you can’t live without.

Let’s take the automotive industry as an example.  If we asked you to name one luxury car brand which would you pick?  We suspect you’ll consider the likes of BMW and Mercedes; after all the advertisers for the manufacturers have told you that not only are their cars luxurious but also extremely reliable.

We are not suggesting that either BMW or Mercedes is not a suitable mode of transportation but are they really any better than a bog standard Ford?

Sex is the ultimate seller and all luxury brands exude sex appeal in order to get you to buy the product.  Another side is of course exclusivity in that only a certain percentage of society will be able to afford their product.

We see this all the time with fashion brands and there are people out there that will pay £10,000 for a handbag when it is in effect no better than one that would cost you £10.

Advertising is all around us, indeed we even advertise ourselves by lauding our individual attributes; a perfect example of this would be wealth which is too many incredibly appealing.

When you look at society as a whole and realise that some of the world’s ageing billionaires are still able to attract partners 30 or 40 years their junior it is apparent that love has little to do with it but rather the individual has advertised him or herself adequately in order to attract someone looking for that particular attribute.

We certainly believe Pat Condell is correct and our own advertising has been a source of continued conflict and frustration.

We could of course pull the advertising, in fact it would take less than 1 minute to remove all advertising from meebal.com but by doing so it would put meebal.com in danger of going out of business because the web hosting firm is not going to give us free hosting and certainly the electricity company wouldn’t provide the electric for free.

Effectively there is only one alternative and that is to ask readers to donate funds or pay for a subscription but with the growing number of website engaging in such a practice it’s now become as bad as advertising in that it is generally ignored.

Currently we have a crowdfunding and social help project up and running and of all the thousands of visitors we receive on a monthly basis only one person has responded to providing technical help and not one penny has been raised in donations to help meebal.com remain afloat.

Our situation is certainly not unique and indeed there are literally tens of thousands of websites facing the very same predicament in that users admonish them for displaying advertising but fail to support their survival.

If we were handed a £10 note for every time some perceived we were dot com millionaires we would in fact be billionaires.  Again it is an illusion generated by the perpetration of the vast number of ‘get rich quick’ schemes that plague the internet.

Most newly created websites last only a few months and are abandoned after the owners quickly realise that making money from content via advertising will not make you rich over night.

Meebal.com is testament to that fact for it is now rapidly approaching 2 years old and yet we have never generated an income from the advertising above £10 a month.

The good news for internet users is that they are able to install software that removes advertising; yes it is possible to install a small piece of software that prevents the likes of Google Ads being display and some internet browsers now support a user’s ability to block online advertising.

There are some that will advocate that content driven websites shouldn’t engage in advertising and there are others who will tell you that most people now ignore the advertising displayed and that in due course all forms of online advertising might become a dead industry.

For now advertising does play a huge role in keeping many online services operational; certainly Google isn’t doing too bad for last year alone it generated nearly $40 billion from it’s AdWords business.

As for content providers that display advertising that too often shows healthy results and such can be seen with the likes of the Daily Mail’s online news service the MailOnline which recently published its quarterly financial statement in which it declared revenues of £14 million from advertising alone.

Going back to the email that our reader sent us she also asked another question; ‘why ask for donations that is crowdfunding, if you are generating an income from online advertising?

It’s a good question and the answer is simple; we at meebal.com don’t like the advertisements any more than our readers do and if we are able to generate sufficient donations on a monthly basis to cover the bare costs then we would remove the advertising; for now we are merely covering out bases and generating at least some revenue to help towards the costs.

Again this is not unique to meebal.com there are lots of small businesses that struggle with the calamity of online advertising; most don’t like it but ultimately realise there is little alternative.

If you have any suggestions that would allow meebal.com to remove the online ads whilst being able to cover the costs of operation we are all ears; along with others that face the very same predicament each and every day.

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