I recently received e-mail from a new software company inviting me to visit them at NetWorld+Interop 2000 in Atlanta to see a demonstration of its new product, described as "a first-of-its kind software that combines Internet filtering and ad blocking to save an additional 10 percent of network bandwidth."
What struck me about this was the "additional 10 percent of network bandwidth." Additional to what? Perhaps the blocked ads make up 10 percent of my bandwidth. But is that 10 percent of my 10M bit/sec Ethernet to the desktop, 100M bit/sec Ethernet on the backbone or perhaps 10 percent of the T-1 line connecting me to the Internet. Is there really that much advertising?
More important to me as a consumer is the idea of blocking advertising. It's generally accepted that the pay-per-view and subscription models of selling Web-based content simply don't work (well, maybe for pornography - but, evidently, not even putting up a pay-as-you-go porn site will guarantee you a profit these days).
It seems most people view the Web as a computer-based television analogy, and they expect it to emulate broadcast TV or basic cable. They'll pay a few bucks for connection (typically $20 per month for dial up, $40 per month for "always-on"), but aren't going to pony up a dime for content.
That, of course, leaves advertising as the one way Web sites can pay for the content they provide.
So now you start installing software that blocks advertising (the so-called "wasted bandwidth") from sites whose content you want to receive. The advertisers then get fewer hits and stop advertising on the site. The site makes less money from advertising, so it dilutes the quality of the content. You don't want the diluted content, so you stop going to the site. Soon the site is out of business.
You could look at it this way: Now you're saving 100 percent of the bandwidth used by that site! Pretty soon, you'll have more bandwidth available than you know what to do with, right?
Here's a thought: You could sell advertising on the Web pages your users are still viewing. That's right, the same technology that lets you strip out banner advertising also lets you insert banner advertising. Ah, the possibilities...
Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.