I’m sure that like mine, your smartphone is packed with app that you’ve installed. How many of them are paid for rather than free though? I find most people reply “none”, or “a few”. So how are these handy little applications being developed? Most people don’t seem to think about it, and I often get the impression users baulk at spending money on an app, even when it’s really useful or fun.
This free app culture extends onto the web too. How many times have you found a useful blog post or forum entry that has helped you figure out how to fix something or decide which product to buy? Sometimes people will post a thank you reply or register their thanks in another way which is great, but what these free apps and sites really need is revenue to keep them going: it takes man-hours and equipment to make the apps and publish content, all of which costs money.
Fundamentally it comes down to this: Developers and publishers of free content rely on advertising to fund their work.
Most people seem to find advertising placements annoying and I agree they can be when they take over: I hate full screen adverts in smartphone aps for example or those foul ‘popups’ that appear in front of the page you’re trying to view, but if they are to the side, above or underneath are they really that intrusive? Don’t forget the service they are doing: making it feasible for developers and publishers to bring content to you without you having to pay for it. Bear in mind it takes a huge number of ad clicks or placements before they make any real money so its not like they are raking it in. Also most ad providers (e..g Google’s AdSense) don’t allow promoting of clicks. So don’t knock the ads, embrace them!