Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Free Rides Can't Last Forever

By Dennis D. McDonald

“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” In Scoble Starts His FriendFeed/Twitter Monetization Strategy Louis Gray describes how Robert Scoble is using Friendfeed and Twitter to advertise an affiliate account that rewards Scoble whenever that link generates an Amazon Kindle sale.

It’s a clever strategy that has generated some criticism since Scoble doesn’t warn people up front that that’s what he’s doing.

This reminds me of the Brogan dustup where Chris published a blog post about his experience spending a $500 gift certificate from Kmart. At the time I didn’t see any difference between what Brogan was doing and what celebrities like Arthur Godfrey did so effectively — and profitably — for so many years: making money from the public trust they have generated. Some people like Godfrey were able to keep a balance between outright commercialism and public trust and as a result value was generated on both sides. How many people remember when Groucho advertised Lipton Tea?

Scoble’s Kindle promotion is a bit different. He doesn’t hang a big badge out that says “If you click this link I’m set to make money depending on what you do.”

And that’s fine with me. People need to experiment with ways to monetize the web. The “free ride” we’re getting can’t last forever. Web users can’t expect to get 100% of all content free forever, otherwise certain types of content will eventually dry up. So I think outrage about what Scoble is doing is misplaced. 

Text copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis D. McDonald, who, readers should not be shocked to learn, publishes this web site, in part, to promote his professional consulting services. Consider yourself warned!

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