Thursday, November 02, 2006

What is a "ClickTip"?

Journalist Stephen Dubner discusses the practice of clicking the ads on a page that is provided for free as a tip to the author of the webpage. Since many webpages make money based on how many people click the ads that are placed on the page, by clicking the ad, you are giving them a small tip.

Stephen references a commenter on his blog:
I think The N.Y. Times and Washington Post websites are great (although I don’t pay for “Times Select” but I do think that their site has the best presentation, appearance-wise). I always try and remember to click on the ad banners once in a while to try and keep the sites free or at least much of the content free. Opening the ads in another tab on Firefox is not so disruptive. Or click and minimize.
What do you think of this practice? Do you think it is (or would be) effective? Try to put in economic terms why people do this.

(Source: Freakonomics Blog)


Anonymous said...

I think this practice would work if there were enough people that wanted to keep from paying for certain websites. I would guess Millions of people in the US alone surf the web each day. I know if i did not want to start paying to use a website, i would gladly click on a few links to keep the website free. Putting this in an economic perspective, i think that the oppurtunity cost of clicking on a few advertisement links would be much easier than having to pay for the website. With these advertisements you might have to deal wiht some pop-ups or spam, but i think keeping the website free to the web surfers would be worth it.

Taylor Pike

Anonymous said...

Actually clicking on ads prevents people from having to pay for the website. Interesting concept that I never really thought about. I agree with Pike. I think that clicking an ad a few times would be easier than having to pay for the entire website. In economic terms, opportunity cost does come to mind, but so does the idea of advertisement. These ads may tip the webpages creators, but also show the "demand" or interest in the websites. "Clicktip" seems like an easy way to get out of paying for websites. Taking just a second to click on an ad, and maybe some annoying pop-ups, will keep websurfers from having to pay. That's not a bad idea.
-Morgan Hale

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Morgan and Taylor, but i also think that doing this is only going to result in even more advertisments. By clicking on the ads you are showing the companies that the ads are doing their jobs, this is why the companies pay for their ads on the website. Because of this more and more companies are going to want to advertise on websites until the web surfer is overwhelmed with pop up advertisements. I think clicking on the ads to make some websites free is a great idea, as long as the ads are kept to a minimum. If I go to a web site and I have to spend 5 minutes minimizing advertisements or whatever it gets to the point where I might be willing to pay a couple dollars not to be annoyed. Either way it works out for the website.
-james clarke

Anonymous said...

I do not think that a few clicks will make the difference of keeping a website free and having to pay for it. The whole argument relates back to a situation like voting. "Is my vote really going to decide the election?" I do not think that clicking on an ad is at all worth the possible viruses, spam, spyware etc. that may come from it. Voting may have a much stronger effect than donating a dollar or two to a website. Even though it only takes about a minute I still would not "clicktip"

-Chip Burge

Anonymous said...

I agree with what Chip is saying. Also, many people do not have the same idea, they just find ads annoying and don't want to bother with them. A company or site will make its own decision on whether they feel that they can maximize profit by being free or not. Morgan is right about clicking an ad is easier than paying, but somehow the concept of clicking the ads to pay for the site would need to be advertised itself. It's a never ending cycle that really ends up being decided by the company.

Hagar the Horrible said...

two more comments:

1.) Chips alluded to this: We may be facing a freerider problem here. Everyone who looks at the website benefits from it being. In that sense the website is a non-exclusive, non-rivalrous good, i.e. a public good. But people do not benefit from clicking on the ads. So where is the incentive for any one person to click, incurring a (small) marginal cost if their private marginal benefit is zero? Maybe it takes someone self-less or, at least int he economic sense, irrational like Dubner to do this.

2.) If people click on the ads but don't look at them the company's revenue will not increase. If they do studies of advertising effectiveness they will notice that over time it is declining. In that sense then they will want to put more ads on the site (or more sites) for the same money or withdraw. It seems to me that in the long run -- and the long run could be very long -- it is not possible to game the system. Sites will only remain free if people respond to the advertising that is posted on them.

Anonymous said...

I agree that if clicking on ads would keep internet free, than i would click on ads. but that is so annoying. i hate when i accidently click on ads and my computer slows down. and like hagar said, i don't understand how the companies will make money if people click and then close without looking, like i do. Also i dont understand how they could make you pay for each website. would you set up an account and each new website you went to subtracted money from your account? i think that paying for each website would be a hassle. and we would have to pay money everytime we did our econ homework! if clicking on ads is what it takes, then count me in.

Anonymous said...

I can definitely see both the advantages and disadvantages of such a system. On one hand, the minimal amount of time and effort necessary to click on an ad or two could bring Web-surfers the much greater benefit of a negligible monetary cost for their surfing. On the other hand, I foresee several logistical problems. First of all, taking a little further what Chip and Hagar brought up, there are millions of people who access the Web every day. In theory, those people would realize that they should “click-tip.” But who knows if, to avoid even the slightest possibility of viruses, etc, each individual will pawn off the responsibility of daily clicking to all those other millions? Though that person might think that his personal shirking of duty would have practically no impact, it would if everybody else followed in his footsteps. In addition, it really would do no good (except to the website) if people just clicked the ad and then shut the window down; though the product would be getting a little exposure, that exposure would not be directed towards the people who, obviously, even cared about the product itself. Even further, people generally pay for Internet access as it is, without paying individually per website. It seems like it would be difficult to convince people to accept the risk of viruses via click-tipping in order to not pay yet more--I would think that, instead, they would just start complaining and trying to figure out ways to get around the system (think along the lines of illegal music downloading). And that could cause even more problems and lost profits than currently.
-Nicole O.