There’s an uncomfortable situation we need to face. A number of very exciting, innovative Web sites have sprouted up over the last several years, attracting huge amounts of interest and attention. Their names are familiar, if not necessarily household: YouTube, Flickr, MySpace.com. The growth of these services has been spectacular, fueled by a healthy new supply of venture capital and entrepreneurial spirit. We’ve seen traffic numbers soar, way past these sites’ more traditional counterparts.
The solution is pretty simple, actually. New Web 2.0-type sites need to launch with advertising, even if they simply sign up with Commission Junction and place a bunch of eBay banners throughout the main pages. They need to establish, in the minds of the site’s visitors, that advertising is part of the service and that’s OK.
Admitting you’re in business and you expect the business to make money isn’t a bad thing. It certainly isn’t the only thing. I’m glad for freeware and blogs and citizen publishers doing it solely for love. But if you’re going to take in capital, be upfront with your visitors about the fact that you anticipate getting value back.
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