Advertising may be broken but it’s the only game in town

I would bet that if one was to keep count during any given week in the blogosphere how many times they’ve heard that advertising is broken or if you depend on advertising as a business model you’ll go out of business chances are you would lose count pretty quickly. I was reminded of this again today as I read an excellent post by Doc Searls and while I can agree with him in principal that most advertising is still wasted I would also suggest that there are no real alternatives.

The biggest problem facing anyone looking to make a living on the web as a content producer is that people are cheap. They are especially cheap when it comes to things like blogs or information outlets of any kind. After all it has been pounded into everyone’s head that information on the web is free and there is no reason in the world why you should pay to read someone’s ideas or opinions. The anti-advertising argument it typically topped off with the idea that you should be making money by things that are a result of your blogging (the first person who mentions selling t-shirts gets a free cuff upside the head).

To a certain extent this idea is just as flawed as having to earn your money by running ads because the reality is that not everyone can run conferences or spend their time on speaking tours or have a nature conducive to being a consultant or teacher. Hell I couldn’t teach someone how to blog or even use a computer because half the time I’d get so frustrated I’d end up doing it myself or suffering from continual concussions from banging my head against the wall.

In the end bills still have to be paid and in many other cases payroll has to be met and no number of t-shirts sold is going to be able to cover those kind of running costs let alone make any kind of profit. Now as true as that might be one can’t deny that the current advertising models being used are broken. Some are more broken than others but until better comes along they are still paying the bills, meeting the payrolls and in most cases turning a profit.

So while the anti-advertising crowd will rub their hands gleefully together with every news report or <insert type of expert> expert blog post about how bad advertising is doing and how it’s going to drop dead any moment they fact is that it isn’t going anywhere. Sure it might morph into different types of formats but until the companies actually putting those ads out there figure out something better and still allow bloggers to earn an income we’re stuck with 125×125 ads or banner ads.

Of course we could all put little donation buttons or tip jar links at the end of our posts instead of running ads. The only problem then is once we get to the end of the month it’s gonna be kinda hard to pay all those operating expensive with the $1.50 in donations and if you’re lucky the $20.00 made from all those t-shirts and coffee mugs.

[picture courtesy of nekkid tees]