When Something is Free OnlineWritten by S. Housley
What are consumer expectations when something is free? Realistically, consumers subconsiously assume free means free, and while that might be initial intent rarely is it case.
What Exactly Does Free Mean? Realistically, consumers subconsciously assume free means free, and while that might be initial intent, rarely is it truly case.
Why do Companies Offer Things for Free? Companies or individuals may promote a free offer or service for any number of reasons. From branding to ad revenue, companies often use "free" to attract attention or interest. As a consumer, it is important to realize what "free" might really mean.
Reasons Things Are Free:
Linking Companies may offer something in exchange for a link back to their website. As web becomes increasingly more competitive, linking can effect more than just search engine placement, and providing a product, service or information free of charge in exchange for a link can be a good business decision. Often, publishers will create articles like this one and make it available for syndication, with stipulation being that author resource box that follows article remain intact, providing links back to author's website. Bottom line, authors often make content available for syndication in exchange for links back to their websites, which they benefit from.
Ad Revenue Some companies provide a product or service free of charge and generate money from advertising. Perhaps they sell banner advertising on their website. A free product draws web traffic so that number of visitors seeing advertisement increases. The more visitors a site attracts, typically more revenue generated from ad space. Perhaps a software application is free of charge, but has embedded advertisements. When ads are clicked, software developer earns a percentage of revenue paid for serving advertisement.
Goodwill Branding / Public Relations On occasion, companies will provide a product, service or information free of charge. If offering is extremely magnanimous or socially sensitive, they will often receive significant press exposure, generating free publicity for their brand. Pepsi Cola sponsors a number of athletic events and generates enormous amounts of brand loyalty and positive PR with their target audience.
Contact Information Sometimes companies or individuals will provide something free in exchange for contact information. Ebooks are often provided free of charge if you provide an email address. The contact information may be sold at a later time or be used to market related products. It is important to check website privacy policies to determine how personal information can be used.
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