Monetizing the Untrackable

Dollars ChartMany consumer facing internet businesses realize that people want free services. As a result, they pursue alternate monetization options. The most common monetization strategy is advertising. Achieving sufficient monetization for complex webs apps or services through advertising has been a difficult feat to achieve though. It has been possible for some companies because of the large amount of users they reach and the the extremely targeted nature of the advertising that they are able to provide.

That’s why it was exciting for many businesses when Mark Zuckerberg told Mike Arrington in 2010 that social norms were evolving and people were becoming more open to sharing personal data and were sharing more information, more kinds of information and with more people. Here we are in 2013 though and at least according to a study by Ovum’s latest Consumer Insights Survey, 68% of the Internet population across 11 countries would select a Do Not Track option, if it was easily available. That doesn’t bode well for businesses that derive the majority of their revenue from mining the data of their users.

That one piece of information should give companies that rely on their users’ data for their profits pause. Do they have another viable monetization strategy or maybe even a handful of strategies? If not, they better devise one. At this point, it looks like companies that collect the majority of their data based upon the activity of the users while on their sites or in their apps will be unaffected. If the majority of the data they collect is based on following their users around the web like Facebook does, there might be a potential bump in the road down the line. There is no tracking the untrackable.

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