Need some proof?
• According to the Pew Project for American Journalism annual report for 2010, the vast majority of Internet users, 79%, say they never or rarely had clicked on an online advertisement. They don't mind them. They simply ignore them.
• Click-through rates on Facebook ads only averaged 0.05% (5 clicks per 10,000 ads) in 2010.
• According to Comscore and Starcom research, 8% of internet users account for 85% of all clicks on display ads. So, when marketers use ads they miss most of their potential customers.
Do you know why? The reason is simple: Readers come for editorial content, not for the ads. I want you to try thinking of yourself. When you go online, do you go for advertisements or for editorial content? Do you click on ads or on editorial links?
Then why online marketers continue to use ads as the main way to reach their target audience, and why publishers continue to use ads as the main way to monetize their content? It's because online marketers and publishers copied the way offline newspapers monetize content - ads.
• "The basic point about the Web is that it is not an advertising medium, the Web is not a selling medium, it is a buying medium. It is user-controlled." -Jakob Nielsen, Web usability expert, 1998. If not ads what else? To find the answer we need to dig a little:
First, we need to find the essence of publisher's value. The answer for me is simple, it's what brought readers to the publishers' site in the first place - great content.
Second, let's look at the biggest money machine on the Internet, Google, and what we can learn from her:
1. Google doesn't own any content, it's like a parasite living on others' content.
2. Marketers are paying billions to Google for sending users to their websites (via AdWords pay-per-click program).
3. Ads work well on Google because every ad in Google, looks the same as content (search result).
How all this relates to publishers?
As a publisher you want the ads to look like your content, but if you look deeper you can see that every time you write about a business and link to the business's website, you create a value for that business (visitors and SEO benefits). It is clear to me that this value is much better than any ad the business may place on your site.
• Clickthrough rates on editorial content are up to 96 times better than on banner ad, social media link or sponsored link. -Eric Wittlake's Blog on B2B and Digital Marketing
I believe marketers would be more than happy to pay publishers (as they pay Google) for the value they create for them. As a marketer, imagine that you are connected, on a daily basis, with many publishers relevant to your business and reach all their readers when they write about you. You can even provide them with your own news, white papers, events, presentations, etc.
In contrast to advertising where the Web sites hosting the ads don't really care about your business (except the money), here, the publishers have a genuine interest in the your business's products and services.
Would marketers be interested in it? You bet.
Yossi Barazani is the CEO and Founder of Publishedin.com, introducing the First Ad-Free network. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org