Last week we suggested that "Web 2.0 is Advertising" in a posting about the implications of copyright lawsuits against community content services such as YouTube.
Network monitoring startup Spiceworks is testing out that theory. IDG reports the company plans on making money from its Web-based application -- which it gives away for free -- through advertising via the ubiquitous Google AdSense program. Users interviewed for the IDG story say they are comfortable with Google's adware, which is basically unobtrusive, running on their systems, given that they are not paying for the software in the first place.
We are more interested in what Spiceworks customers think about the possibility of their admins actually clicking on those ads and doing a little shopping (albeit tech-oriented shopping) while they are supposed to be monitoring the network.
Adsense and other such programs are driven largely by the pay-per-click model; sites that host the ads make money when people click through to sponsors' sites or offers.
The Spiceworks experiment will be an interesting test of exactly how Web 2.0 companies can give away software and still make money. Google, MySpace and other content-centric services basically act as advertising-driven publishing sites, at least from a revenue perspective. (Critics note that Google's forays into Web-based software, such as the Writely word processor, GMail and Google Spreadsheet, have been financially unremarkable to date.)
Can a software company actually give away its product without the promise of upsell for support? Certainly, the Red Hat model doesn't apply to software that's hosted remotely and runs in a browser.
And do you really want your clerical staff clicking on ads when they are supposed to be processing expense reports?