The value of targeted advertising

This post will might be the post that will roast me the most. But before triggering your fingers just by reading the title I would like everyone to read my post, and read my argument before jumping in to conclusions.

As developers, techies we all hate ads but…

Yes, developers like you and me love user privacy, we like to use only usernames on forums, we don’t like services making it mandatory to give our real names, photos etc.

Same goes for advertising, we all hate to see ads, we all dislike the experience of seeing lots of ads on a website, ads make websites load slow, use our data/bandwidth.

We just want to go to a website, get what we came there, and get out. Trust me I’m no different from you, I also hate annoying ads, I also hate ads as much as you do.

But most average users don’t mind to see an ad or two on a website, they don’t mind services like Facebook and its companies, Google, and other advertising networking tracking them throughout the internet. They are happy to get a free service, in exchange of their data, tracking, and some ads in between.

As a developer, marketer

We all love making new things, we all want to see our tools and products to be used by as many people as possible. No one likes to start a failed startup, or launch a failed product.

Advertising is a great way to get the word out about your product to the internet. You can reach more people through online advertising, by spending the same amount than posting an ad on the a newspaper or TV.

Not only that targeted online advertising ads more value to the money you spend. A newspaper ad or a TV ad is like firing randomly hoping you will hit as many targets as possible.

But a targeted online ad is more likely to get impressions of people who are most likely to use your product (Facebook), or more likely potential users searching for a product like yours (Google).So you get more value to the money you spend as an advertiser or creator.

Even if your product is a premium product that doesn’t require advertising, you will still have to rely on advertisements to get the word out about your product.

As a publisher

Running a website, or app can be expensive, you need to pay for the servers, you need to pay for the developer tools (Apple developer license), even if it’s an open source tool, you spend you time

If you are providing a free service, advertising is a great way to cover development cost, server costs. Yes you can depend on donations, but still that may not make enough money, or users might use the product more than they donate.

For example, how many people would be willing to pay $50 USD per month? Do people think Facebook is providing them a value of $50 USD per month? Most people will say no, even I don’t think Facebook is giving me a value around $50 USD per month.

But people like using Facebook, and use Facebook for free, but Facebook will have to pay for their data centres, their developers, and other costs.

And also even though there will be some people who will donate some amount for the development of Facebook, the amount of donations will not be able to cover development costs.

So even though as annoying as it can be, some services will have to depend on ad revenue to cover their costs and make a profit in return.

As a user

Imagine you go to a website, you will be shown an ad that is something totally unrelated to you? Ever visited a torrent website, and you are greeted with an ad to an adult website? Isn’t that annoying?

Won’t you rather enjoy a high quality targeted ad on Facebook, rather than seeing some non targeted random ad, totally unrelated. A targeted ad can give a better experience for the user, and also a money well spent for the advertiser.

Why we need minimally invasive tracking

In order to do this, there has to have some level tracking for ad services, let that be cookies, pixels, super-cookies, there needs to be some sort of minimally invasive tracking to serve targeted, and therefore a good ad experience.

As developers, startup creators, won’t you like to spend money to get the word out about your startup or product to the most relevant people? or spend that money to getting your product to random set of users.

Isn’t that the same reason why we share our creations on HackerNews, ProductHunt than some unrelated cooking subreddit? Because we all understand the value of a good audience.

A targeted ad is a method where all parties, publishers, advertisers, users all will benefit.

So next time when you criticise targeting, and privacy, we all need to remember that we won’t be able to get out word out, publishers and some services won’t be able to make revenue without advertising.

Now roast me with your opinions.