Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Saturday, May 19, 2007

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I wonder if kids born in this decade will realize that we once lived in a world where advertising could be found in specific locations. TV Commercials, Magazines, Billboards and a few others were the only place you found advertising and you knew it was an ad.

In the last ten years ads have been digitally added to sports fields, sides of personal autos and space has even been sold on various body parts. Advertisers now pay for placement in TV shows and movies. Communities have even sold space on police and fire vehicles. Soon we could see widespread use of ad supported phone calls, airline seats, ads on the back of photo paper, and even ad sponsored software updates.

Ad supported web sites are fairly common. Ad supported software is growing. Many years ago, working at America Online we made fun and chastised Prodigy because it was ad supported. Oh, how things have changed.

Now we hear more and more about Microsoft getting into the advertising business. Last week at a conference for large online advertisers, Bill Gates was among many who reassured attendees that Microsoft “will continue to invest heavily in innovation and partnerships in this area”. This week they followed up with the $6 billion dollar purchase of aQuantive. According to ZDNet, it’s the “biggest acquisition in Microsoft’s corporate history”.

I’m sure my life has benefited from products from Microsoft, but I don’t feel warm and fuzzy thinking of Microsoft has an advertising giant. Perhaps Google’s purchase of DoubleClick for $3.1 Billion should freak me out too but at least for now, Google makes it clear what are “sponsored links”.

My real fear, besides “ad pollution”, is that the advertising costs will shut out many low overhead, quality products. The big winners will be companies and products that suck the ad costs back out from their customers.

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