The internet is my favorite thing (OK, one of my favorite things) and it dawned on me that I am my own worst nightmare. I do not practice what I preach.
In this day and age of free information, we have forgotten that “free” is a relative term.
While it is free to call up CNN.com and check the latest headlines, there are fees all over the place. You have paid for your internet connection (Comcast, Clear or maybe in your hotel room) and CNN has paid a ton of money to deliver the information to your web browser. But this is not about CNN or your local internet provider, they get massive amounts of traffic (or eyeballs as we like to say). When you get 10m hits a day it is not too difficult to make a living and I am sure that Comcast and Time Warner are doing just fine.
This is about the smaller sites that you know and love, our industry sites. Sites like MPI, PlannerWire, Plan Your Meetings, MeetingsNet, SITE and even this blog. Sites that don’t get 10m hits a day. These are sites that may only get 300 or 400 hits a day.
Most of these sites make their living delivering advertising in the form of text links and banner ads and for our meeting and event industry associations, the advertising helps with non-dues revenue off-set the cost of operating their website (which in the case of MPI, probably isn’t cheap thing).
A simple way to help make the job of delivering this information easier is to give a click and visit an advertiser. It is that easy.
I am not saying click just to click, I am saying tune back in to what we are seeing. Click on an ad that is relevant to something that you need. If you are planning a program in LA and you see an ad for the LACVB, click on it and go and learn something on that site.
This does three things, it gives your original site much needed revenue to continue operations (and keeping this information free), it gives the advertiser the metrics they need to keep supporting the websites that bring them qualified traffic and it also gives you information that you did not have before. I hate the term, but it is a win/win for everyone.
Which goes to the point of “don’t click for clickings sake”…. make informed choices about which advertisers you visit. This allows the site the ability to target the advertisers that bring the most to the table for their visitors, which provides you with more informed choices (so on and so on and so on and so on). For sites that use a service like Google to deliver ads, it helps Google learn what is relevant to the site user so that they can more finely tune the message.
If you click for clickings sake, the next thing you know the site will be populated with the types of ads no one whats to see.
So – I am making it a point to find one ad a day that really speaks to me, a destination, a service, whatever. Today, I was on MeetingsNet and I clicked on an ad for Atlanta, I am doing a little research because hopefully, we will be doing a program there in the fall. I spent some time on the Atlanta CVB website and found that they have a nice little page detailing all of the special event facilities and their capacities.
Now, this is just the start of my research, but by clicking on the ad, I now have a place to start. Free isn’t free and I just paid my admission.