Being a good Internet citizen.

Almost all the multimedia we consume today is free. Sure, there are websites that cost money, subscription cable, and satellite radio, but in general, we don’t pay for most of that stuff. So how do these services continue to operate? Ads. How do ads make them money?

Well, people pay to have their ads placed in front of people. The theory is, the more people that see your product, the more people will use it and the more money you’ll make. Hopefully, the amount of money you make because of your advertising makes you more money than what it cost to do the advertising. TV and radio ads are easy. People are forced to watch/listen to a stream and theres nothing they can do to truly avoid the ad (yeah yeah DVRs blah blah). The Internet is quite different. Most ads are just hanging out on the side of the page. You aren’t forced to pay any attention to them. So how does Internet advertising work?

There are two main ways to pay for advertising on the Internet. You pay for every click on your ad, or you pay for every 1000 people that your ad is shown to. That seems simple enough, but who gets that advertising money? The company that serves up the ads? The company who owns the site where the ads are?

The answer is both. I imagine the ad company gets the lion’s share of that revenue but the website also gets some. There is a formula that has to do with the click-through-rate (a percentage of how many people click the ads compared to how many people are shown the ads). The better the click through rate, the more money the website gets.

When was the last time you clicked on an ad online? If nobody clicks the ads, the site doesn’t make money. Now thats not always a big deal. My website isn’t my day job. It’s a hobby that I use to learn new things. What about the millions of people whose website is their day job? How will they make any money? If you put up a pay wall, nobody will visit your site. If you put up ads, you might not actually make any money.

So what’s my point? Start clicking ads! If you like the website you’re visiting, click a link or two. The days of links installing viruses are over (mostly*). Obviously, you need to use common sense when clicking these ads. Avoid your favorite porn sites ad banners or the ads on your torrent tracker of choice. Most other sites are gonna be fine and you’re gonna help out the developer. You might even find something interesting.┬áThis doesn’t just apply to websites. Lots of software is going to an ad based model. Click those ads too, if you like the product.

Clicking ads is an easy way to throw the developer a bone and make them a little bit of money without having to spend any yourself. You can think of it like tipping your server at a restaurant. It’s a way to reward them for a job well done.

This may come off as an attempt to get people to click on my own ads. I am NOT doing that. That violates the AdSense terms of service. So, only click on my ads if you think they’re interesting.

*You’re clicking these ads at your own risk. There are still lots of shady people all over the Internet. Don’t be dumb.

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