The Ad-Supported World: Ready or Not, Here It Comes
Friday, October 23, 2009; 7:31 AM
A few weeks ago, Microsoft made a minor splash by announcing they'd offer an ad-supported version of Microsoft Office. Most of the functionality would be there, but there'd be an ad down there in the corner. A tempest briefly raged in this teapot, but died down once people realized they'd been using ad-supported software for years and never even thought to complain. After all, every time you search for something ¿ look, ads! Have a free email account? Ads here and there (targeted based on the content of your email, which surprisingly few people find disturbing), and sometimes even included in your outgoing messages. Ad-supported services and software are embedded in our technological landscape whether you realize it or not, and it's beyond question that they've cultivated improvement.So when word came down that Apple had filed a patent for what appears to be an ad-supported version of OS X, my shock abated almost instantly. In fact, I only felt more justified in backing ad-supported products. There will be objections, some legitimate, some hysterical, but I think it will become increasingly clear over the next few years that this sort of thing is not only unavoidable, but ultimately desirable. As with other major emerging concepts like globalization, peer to peer connectivity, net neutrality, and device convergence, the evolution of advertising will be denied, debated, and championed in a million different ways. And that's okay. Like those other processes (all of them still ongoing), you don't have to accept them right away, but it helps if you realize that resistance is futile.