Not Seth Godin’s Best Advice
If every time you read a blog post or bit of online content you enjoyed you clicked on an ad to say thanks, the economics of the web would change immediately. You don’t have to buy anything (though it’s fine if you do). You just have to honor the writer by giving them a click.
He later expounded on what he meant, but the explanation shows that he either doesn’t understand online advertising or he just wasn’t thinking this through.
As a business, I love online advertising because it allows me to target a specific cost-per-action with very fine precision — something that just isn’t possible offline. If I’m suddenly having to pay lots of uninterested clicks, though, I’ll immediately lower what I’m paying per click to get back to my cost-per-action target.
What’s the result for the publisher? Optimistically, he ends up making exactly as much as he was before because the advertisers simply drop their per-click prices to offset the high rate of worthless clicks. Pessimistically, he ends up making much less than before because advertisers get sick of the worthless clicks and stop advertising altogether.
Seth’s scenario in which the publisher makes more just doesn’t exist in the real world. Fake clicks aren’t good for anyone.
Hat tip: Patrick
Update – Since I wrote this last night, Seth has apologized:
Updated: Upending a finely tuned machine: It’s pretty clear that this post and the one before were seen by practitioners of click advertising as just plain stupid. If you read them the way they read them, that interpretation is entirely possible, and I apologize. My intent was to point out that we’re creating a culture of surfers who just don’t click on ads, which has far-reaching effects for our medium. For those that saw some other intent, I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better next time.