Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting



Make More Money – or Maybe Not?…

Every day I get at least one e-mail from Facebook with a list of people that I should “friend”.  About ninety-nine percent of these people I have no idea who they are or why they would want me to be their friend – or even distant acquaintance.  And conversely, why would I want them to be my “friend”?  I have no idea how they live, where they live, and what they do.  It naturally makes one wonder; why does Facebook care so much about my lack of friendships?

Facebook is just one of several “social network” companies that offer their services for “free”.  Is this an act of charity that they want us all to become friends?  I’m sure that no one reading this column will be so naive.  As with all companies -- and especially ones that are publicly owned through stock purchases -- they are in it to make money for their stockholders and early investors.  So how can they make money providing a free service?  And an even more important question is how will they sustain the expected increases in revenue and profits once their early growth spurt is over? 

The magic answer is of course – advertising.  Ad revenue will have to be the engine that drives revenue and profit growth.  And so Facebook wants me to tell them what I like to do, who I like to do it with, and what I may be interested in acquiring next.  In the early stages, this may not be all that intrusive.  However, as time goes on, Facebook’s hunger to know more and more about us will continue to grow.  Why?  Because that will be the path by which they can attract more advertising revenue.   And of course the advertisers want to make sure that we see their messages.  So not only will we have other humans as “friends”.   We will have businesses who will persuasively try to pressure us to befriend them as well.

To a large degree this has already happened with trade publications that used to come to us in the mail but are now “on-line” only.  This was supposed to be a more efficient and lower cost way to deliver useful information to us.  And it certainly is lower cost for the sender.  But what about us – the readers?   In a print publication, I can scan each page quickly and decide if there is anything of interest.  If I find an article interesting, I can read as much or as little of it as I wish.  I have complete control over how I use my time.  The electronic on-line versions could of course be similarly configured.  But apparently, greed has gotten in the way.  The advertising-revenue driven business model has come up with far more intrusive ways to try to get us to look and linger over what is being promoted – without giving us a convenient alternate choice.

An article that you may wish to read will typically be divided into several screen pages.  Four pages seems to be a favorite number for many articles but if there are images included then one can expect perhaps 10 or 15 screens with the most interesting images near the end.   As we click on the article of interest, an ad pops up instead.  In the upper corner there may be a small text box that says the ad will end in 10 or 15 seconds but that you can skip past it by clicking on this location.  Of course, when you click on it nothing happens – for about 10 seconds.   And that delay is not by accident.  What else can you look at while waiting?  However, that is not the end of the story.  When you have finished reading the first page and attempt to go to the next one, the same process is repeated.  Once again an ad pops up with the proffered opportunity to skip past it – in about 10 seconds.  The result is that an article that in print might have taken a few minutes to scan becomes a laborious process of clicking and waiting.  And if the article is based on a sequence of images, the process becomes one of requiring several minutes for each desired image to finally pop up.  There are no provisions for skipping around.  Page by page we are forced to look at ads before we can see what we want to see. 
The end result for me has become that I now have to encounter an article title that I think could be of especially high interest to me before I even attempt to access it.  If it simply looks interesting that is not enough for me to go through this frustrating process each and every time.  So what happens if readers stop reading?  What advantage will this aggressive “push” advertising be to the companies attempting to get their message to us.  By trying to force onto us what the publishers think we should look at, it has instead created the opposite result.    

I suspect that “social media” will go through a similar evolutionary growth process and eventually come to the same unhappy end result.  We can expect to see ever more intrusive advertising that is supposed to be geared to our particular interests.  We can expect to be bombarded with messages that we really don’t want to see – especially among our “friends” network.  This intrusiveness will cause us to abandon these services and come up with new and more intimate ways to share personal information with our real friends. 

So for all you folks out there who Facebook thinks I need to “friend”; please don’t be concerned, I won’t be intruding into your personal lives.  And if you want to be my friend, it will have to be through a more personal introduction.  That way we can decide if we have enough in common to share thoughts that will stimulate and intrigue us. 

Should you wish to comment on this column and give me a new idea or two, even a contrary one, you may reach me directly from this site, by e-mail at, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.             




19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117

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