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Do I Pay or Do I Read the Ads?

A few years ago now I remember reading a prediction that companies would begin to offer two types of services to clients.  One would be a paid service, and the other free or low-cost in return for accepting advertising.  For instance, you could get a rental car at normal rates, or get one at low rates that is covered in advertising for a company, who are paying for the car rental instead of you, in return for their message being driven around.  Another example would be a paid drink at a vending machine immediately, or a reduced price one after watching 2 minutes of advertising on the screen.  The assumption at the time, as I recall, was that it was likely to be the younger generations happy to take the advertising and the older consumers more willing to pay for speed, discretion etc.  Sadly I cannot remember where I read it, but whoever wrote it was certainly on the right track because this has become common with some products and services.

I am facing a dilemma of exactly that kind right now.  I am about to source some new webinar software.  I do not currently run many webinars and certainly at this stage cannot justify the high monthly rate of some providers, however excellent their product might be.  I need to start somewhere and the product I am looking at has two options – one with a monthly fee, and one free – but the free version includes the webinar attenders have advertising displayed on their screens during the webinar.  So I find myself endeavouring to answer these questions:

If I opt for the free version, will my clients mind the advertising?  Who will, who won’t?

If I opt for the paid version, can I sell enough products and services from the webinars to cover this and more?

Will my clients have a different view about seeing advertising if the webinar is free, versus part of a paid subscription product?

Does the appearance of advertising during the webinar affect in a negative way, my own and my company brand?

If you have a view on this I would love you to share it.  In the meantime I will deliberate further and let you know in a later post what I’ve decided to do!

Categories: Business and Strategy
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