The slippery slope of a subscription based internet

Posted by Christopher Farm on March 02, 2023 · 2 mins read

Advertising revenue is an essential component for developers and their businesses. It provides a way for apps to be offered for free to consumers while still generating revenue for the app’s developers. Without advertising, apps would be forced to rely solely on in-app purchases or subscription models, which would limit the number of consumers who could access the content.

Twitter and Meta recently announced a blue check program for users who pay a monthly subscription - although it looks harmless on the surface, giving them specific advantages that other “free” users don’t have is a slipperly slope. As these companies develop more features for these subscribers, their reach and access becomes more privileged in comparison to “free” consumers. Similarly, Netflix and YouTube recently increased their subscription prices for consumers, forcing those who can’t afford to pay to cancel services marking it harder for some people to consumer similar content.

Advertising also allows a vast array of different types of apps and content to exist. This diversity is essential because it provides consumers with a broad range of choices, allowing them to find content that suits their individual needs and interests. Without ad revenue, it would be challenging for smaller, niche apps to survive, as they would be unable to compete with larger, more established apps that have a built-in user base. Advertising provides a level playing field for all apps, allowing them to reach their intended audience and compete on merit rather than just marketing budget. A downstream effect of less diversity is limitation on thinking and innovation. When content is only available through subscriptions, it limits access to those who can afford it and incrememtally build larger innovative businesses down the line, leading to a narrower range of ideas.