We live in a time when we understand that the environment is a delicate ecosystem, which if one element were removed, would fail. Without trees, oxygen would deplete, without oxygen animals couldn’t breathe, without animals people couldn’t eat. A massive and delicate interdependence exists in the world, to make it as glorious as it is today.
So what happens when one of these parts of the whole, are removed? Well, the impact wouldn’t happen in a tight little vacuum. The whole system could collapse. This doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t exist, but it wouldn’t be as fruitful as it is today. Imagine a world without a great, juicy steak. I can’t.
The relationship between advertising and publishers on the Internet isn’t any different. Without advertisements the quality of your online ecosystem would collapse.
Take a glance at Pandora and Hulu.com, for example. If Pandora didn’t have advertisements, listeners would have to subscribe to get their daily dose of The Decemberists (great band) or go out of businesses. Hulu.com feeds off the meaty advertising dollars for those videos that show up in the middle of your shows.
These online animals are in a symbiotic relationship with their advertisers. And without the dollars to live, they might not be able to have a sustainable business model.
Obviously, other business models do exist, Wikipedia and opensource software rely on a community of educated and knowledgeable contributors. So, many things could exist without advertising, but the robust and bountifulness of your experience would surely be hurt.
So the next time you hear someone complain about that banner ads on your local news site or the video ad on your video website, remember that these designed spaces are the reason you can enjoy your online environment.