The keen-eyed among you may have noticed the new "Classifieds" module that quietly got added to your list of available modules (in beta). The cynics in you (and me) must be wondering, "but is this not advertising? I thought Snip was 'ad-free'!".
Let's talk about it.
In order to understand the difference, we first have to establish what "regular ads" are.
Why are regular ads so bad?
TL;DR: They're annoying, creepy, distracting, unneeded, unconsented and infringe on your privacy rights.
1. They're targeted
While this of course is a plus from a business/marketing perspective, it's detrimental to users. I'm not going into a rant about why analytics and tracking are so bad because I already do that every time I talk about Snip. I'm just going to say it's bad for privacy reasons.
2. You have no choice
When you visit a website that serves ads, you don't get a say in it. You will see those ads (unless you use ad-block), even though that's not why you're there. You tolerate them because you're interested in or curious about the content, unless your frustration trumps your interest and curiosity and you leave the website because of those ads.
Ads are also often incorporated mid-content, in the infamous "banner ad" form. Worse yet are interstitial ads, that take up your entire screen when you're navigating from one page to the next.
3. You don't actually care about what they're selling
As hyped up as the concept of "targeted advertising" has been since the early 2000s has been, it's really not all that it's glamorized as. Sure, every now and then you do see an ad for something you're actually interested in, but most of the time you see (or hear on Spotify) ads for an app that you have installed. Clearly, you not only already know about the product but also use it. Wouldn't it make more sense to advertise competitors that you're not aware of? But what do I know.
4. They're creepy
This is sort of related to #1 but worth mentioning on its own. When you see an ad for something right after you think about it, that's incredibly creepy and terrifying. It serves as a jolting reminder of the Orwellian world we live in where corporations know everything about you and nothing is safe from them and their greed. It shakes you to your core. You feel shivers in your boners with momentary paranoia about being constantly watched. One might argue that this paranoia should last long enough for you to take measures to protect your privacy, but again, what do I know.
5. They're distracting
Obviously, this is by design. Ads are psychologically designed to capture your attention (one might argue steal is a better word, since it wasn't an authorized capture, but WDIK) and pull you out of whatever you're doing to try and sell you something. It's like walking down the street in certain developing countries where literally hundreds of people are trying to sell you something you probably don't need or care about at the same time. It gets very overwhelming very fast and can completely ruin an experience.
Fortunately, on the internet, it's possible to ignore these ads. In many cases people start ignoring them subconsciously, in a well-documented phenomena called banner blindness. This is the reason we don't use banners to display any kind of information, especially if it's important. Banner ads have ruined the medium by abusing it.
With that out of the way, how are classifieds different?
1. You only see them when you actively choose to
This difference, by itself, automatically eliminates all the problems associated with regular advertising.
-They're never shown to you without your consent
-They're never distracting
-They're never for things you don't care about
-They're not creepy and don't infringe on your privacy rights
2. They're free
This difference is very important to mention. The barrier of entry for regular ads is their cost, which makes them more often used by large corporations, rather than individuals, freelancers and small businesses.
One of our goals here at Snip.City is to empower people. People. Not corporations. This often means having to tip the balance in favor of the working man. Because one of the disadvantages of a "free market" is that it's not really free. It's controlled by the most powerful, and power in free markets is determined by wealth. To put it simply, the more money you have, the more control you have over the market. This reality is in stark contrast to the myth that free markets breed competition. Truth of the matter is that free markets inhibit competition. The top players usually kill or buy out any competitors once they become a threat. Or they cut deals with them so that neither one partakes in competitive behavior. You don't have to look very far to find examples of this, nor will I mention examples. Instead, I will step down from my soap box and end my rant here.
3. They're more effective than regular ads
Regular ads rely on many incorrect assumptions. When you see an ad, you're probably not interested in it. But even if you are, you may not be able or willing to pay for it.
Classifieds have historically been infinitely more successful because when you see an ad, you're definitely interested in it since you actively went looking for it. Moreover, you're also willing and in a position to pay for it, unless you're just window shopping. And even if you are just window shopping, usually it's to bookmark or shortlist items of interest for when you do have money, so in the end the classified is still more successful. Because no one ever looks at regular ads with the intention of window shopping, nor are they likely to remember it when it was brought to their attention in an annoying, creepy, distracting and predatory way.
Thank you for coming to our TED talk. We hope you enjoy and benefit from the Classifieds module and as always, we're open to your feedback, be it to report issues or make suggestions.
Speaking of issues, we have to point out that while we have many planned enhancements for the module, there is one bug right now that could be frustrating or confusing, which is the reason why it still has the [BETA] tag. For some reason, photos don't get uploaded at the time of creating an ad. But if you then go and edit the ad and upload the photo, it uploads successfully. We don't yet know why this is happening, but we will get to the bottom of it and fix it. At which point we will remove the [BETA] tag from the module and create a wiki page for it and possibly announce it in a blog post as well.