Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Free" to "Fee" - Can businesses move services from "free" to "fee"?

I have seen lots of recent mentions about "free" and how online advertising is dying.  Bob Garfield's recent comments about how people do not click on ads (see my recent post here), as well as Six Pixels' recent post (here) both talk about how we all know how the declining clicks is not a shock to anyone.  I've long wondered how businesses continue to invest in online advertising when I don't know anyone that ever clicks on these ads. Of course I understand the Brand messaging and do see that there is value in online advertising, but I don't see how many people will click on ads.

I've also seen a lot of articles and mentions in podcasts around how 'free' services business models are hurting the market.  Businesses are killing themselves without even knowing it. Businesses launch a free service and think that advertising will be the answer to their revenue plan.  As I stated above, it appears that online advertising is in a declining state (note: this is just a hypothesis).  If ad revenue, for 'free' services business models, the basic economics of this model will not work. In order for a 'free' service to recoup for diminishing ad revenues, one option is to introduce a pricing structure for this 'not-so free' service.

Now, introducing a 'fee' structure after customers have already received the product for free is not going to be easy.

Are there any 'free' to 'fee' success stories out there?  If you have any, please share them with us.

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