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Your Take: Free Services Supported by Advertising

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One of my favorite free services is Credit Karma, which I use to help monitor my credit score and is a cornerstone of my do-it-yourself identity theft solution. Credit Karma gives you a free TransUnion credit score along with credit report change notification, which makes it perfect for keeping an eye on your report. It’s absolutely free because it’s entirely advertisement supported.

When you check your score and review their comments on your report, you’re shown credit card and financial services advertisements. Some people sign up for them, some people don’t; net result is that everyone gets a great service for free as long as you’re happy with the advertising.

When you think about it, much of the web is built on this principle. Mint.com, which was acquired by Intuit, was built entirely on this model and everyone loved them. Your favorite search engine, Google, is funded by the advertisements in the search results.

What do you think of these types of advertising supported services? Do you love them because you get a great service for free? Or do you think there’s just too much advertising and you’d rather pay?

{ 12 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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12 Responses to “Your Take: Free Services Supported by Advertising”

  1. Shirley says:

    I use Google every day (I delete cookies every day too) and I am very happy with the service. The ads are clearly marked as such and are even on a different color background, so I just avoid those.

    With Credit Karma the ads are obviously ads and may possibly be one you would like to look into further. It’s pretty easy to bypass the ones that don’t interest you.

    If seeing these ads, with no need to respond to them, is my payment for their services, it’s fine with me. On the other hand, if I have to click through ads to get to my intended goal, I won’t use that service again.

    • daenyll says:

      I agree, as long as the ads do not diminish the service, and do not become too so numerous as to become annoying I have no problem with ad supported offerings. Just as long as the companies running these offerings remember that they’re providing a service to people and not just raking in an income from the ads.

  2. Vic says:

    It is short sighted to believe that those sites make information solely on advertising. You think these sites provide a service through the goodness of their hearts? Anything you search for in Google builds up a profile that not only targets advertising, but MINES data and FOLLOWS you. That data in turns gets sold to advertisers, credit card companies, insurance companies, etc.

    Think deleting your cookies will save you? WRONG. Sites for quite sometime would track you via FLASH. Up until recently, you could not even block or purge the cache for Flash.

    And mint.com supported by ads? HA! You are giving them a proverbial GOLDMINE in consumer data. Everything you buy is being tracked, logged and categorized. Account balances monitored, etc.

    Credit card companies have been doing this for ages. BOA tracks where you purchase stuff and say you buy something out of the ordinary, they will put a flag on your account and have you call in for authorization. When they see someone that normally buys beer and video games and suddenly is buying a Coach bag, something is off and triggers the alarm.

    Don’t even get me started on facebook

    The only expectation of privacy you should have is that YOU HAVE NONE.

    Firefox plugins like TACO and Ghostery provide some protection but you can never be truly protected.

    • gharkness says:

      Be that as it may (or not), until they reach into my pocket and actually take my cash, all their tracking and spying only tells them **what** to advertise to me.

      That in no way obligates me to buy anything. This is a model I much prefer to having to pay for service.

    • Shirley says:

      This is the link to manage your flash cookies.

      http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager07.html

      Quoted from this site:
      Use this panel to specify storage settings for any or all of the websites that you have visited. The list of Visited Websites displays the following information for each website:
      •The name of the website
      •The amount of disk space the website has used to store information on your computer
      •The maximum amount of disk space the website can use before requesting additional space

      In this panel, you can change storage settings for a website or delete the website so that, if you visit it again, it will use your global settings instead of any individual settings you may have set. You can also delete all sites, which erases any information that may have already been stored on your computer.

  3. Monique says:

    I agree that there is a hidden motive behind all this but unless you live on a desert island and hack your messages into stone tablets before throwing them into the sea, it’s already too late! Anyone who uses the Internet for anything is being tracked, followed and monitored. It’s the price for all that convenience and as long as it’s about my consumer preferences I don’t mind too much. Sometimes it’s actually nice when an advertisement pops up for something that I end up liking but hadn’t heard of yet. And when my credit card company called me to ask about some suspicious transactions I was more than happy. I’m hoping that with careful monitoring of what information I provide to whom, the INadvertent information I provide is not going to be too detrimental.

  4. freeby50 says:

    I don’t have a problem with free services supported by advertising in general. Of course some advertising can be more obnoxious than others and I don’t love advertising. But if a service is good enough and free then I don’t mind some ads. I mean this is how network TV and radio stations have always worked. Whether or not I want to pay for the service depends on how good the service in question is and if theres decent alternatives. I’m not paying for satellite radio cause I can just listen to FM, but if the ONLY option in the world was satellite radio then I might pay for it. I’d pay $20 to see a PPV football game if thats the only way I could watch it but if EPSN offered to show the game for free with commercials or charge 50¢ to avoid commercials I think I’d go the free route and live through a few commercials.

  5. govenar says:

    I’m surprised that advertisers still spend money on these ads that no one looks at.

  6. It all depends on how the advertising is presented. Mint and Credit Karma do a great job of offering something that could help you and it not so invasive. Same for Google Search. The Display network, letting blogs put ads where ever they want, that’s where things can get annoying.

  7. Ken says:

    I hope most sites remain free and are able to survive off advertising. It’s too much trouble and too costly if one has to subscribe to multiple sites. This is especially true for news sites.

  8. echidnina says:

    I don’t mind advertising so long as it’s clearly marked and not intrusive. I use NoScript and Adblock on my Firefox to keep the intrusive ads at bay – the kind that pop up over the screen or from the corner of the page, play music, that kind of thing. Those kinds I’m not okay with. But Google text ads, or static banner ads, or even GIFs so long as they’re not distracting, are fine. Those are the kinds of ads I use on my own websites, as well. I never put an ad on my site that I would be annoyed with seeing on someone else’s site.


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