Revealed: The Cost Of An ‘Ad-Free’ Internet

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Have you ever browsed the web and thought to yourself, “how much would I have to pay to make all of these ads go away?”

Well, according to TripleLift co-founder and chief strategy officer Ari Lewine, an ad-free internet would cost a user around $620 per year ($US410).

Lewine calculated this figure by taking the 2019 revenue from YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snap, Google Search and major publishers and dividing each figure by the number of users on the platform.

From here he added up the average revenue per user on each platform to reach the final figure.

While there is always going to be a margin of error when making such a calculation, Lewine explained the point of the exercise was to highlight the reality of the internet.

“The main point is that the internet isn’t free,” he told B&T.

“Sometimes it can feel like the internet is free because we don’t have to take out a credit card every time we go to a website or use a social network.

“There is a real value, and real cost, to creating content, reporting news, designing websites and utilities.”

As hypothetical as it might sound, the prospect of an ad-free internet has been bandied around before.

Ad-blockers are a common practice, while web browsers Mozilla and Firefox both offer users a subscription for an ad-free experience on certain publications.

Google similarly has flirted with the idea, launching the Google Contributor ‘ad removal pass’ in 2017 to give users the option of paying for pages without ads on a per-page fee.

And while some of these options are reasonably priced – Firefox’s ad-free option costs $US4.99 per month – for most, paying for an ad-free internet is simply not reasonable.

“When you charge for something, there will be people who won’t be able to afford it,” said Lewine.

“If that happens to the use of the internet, the result might be that the world will be split into two groups.

“Those who can afford it can access news, information, and consumer platforms. Those who can’t will be left without access to content and services. For these reasons, advertising plays an integral role in the availability of content in modern society and a democratic system.”

 

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