By now, you’ve probably heard about Ello, the ad-free social network that stands in stark opposition to Facebook and its ad-driven business model. And, if you haven’t heard of Ello, you should check it out. Although Ello is currently in beta and has limited features at this time, there’s something there that’s worth seeing—and that has the potential to change the way marketers approach marketing.
My friends and I thought we were pretty smart when we decided that we should snatch up all the hot handles on Ello while the network was still in its infancy. (I think we were all bummed we missed out on buying up dot-coms in the 90s because we were kids at the time, so this was our attempt). But, after trying to obtain handles such as @dominos; @walmart; @mcdonalds and @beyonce to no avail, we realized that Ello was one step ahead of us (if not more!).
So, what’s the big deal?
What’s so radical about Ello’s ad-free model is not that it’s ad-free. Rather, it’s that Ello gives people the power to decide whether or not they want to allow advertisers to participate in the conversations they’re having—to appear in their feeds. Instead of selling ads to turn a profit and then forcing network users to view them (which is what both Facebook and Instagram both do), Ello holds on to (and possibly sells) handles for advertisers, which means that the only way network users will see advertisers’ ads is if they choose to follow them.
The implications of this model are huge and have long been discussed by ad professors everywhere: an advertising model where ads don’t find consumers but consumers find ads. A model that dictates that advertisers have to assimilate to the network’s standards (at least aesthetically) and create content that is relevant to network users in order to gain views and/or followers. (Take a peek at what @netflix did on Ello below).
Though Ello’s success as well as the success of its business model is yet to be foreseen, I have to say that I find the possibility of such an “ad-free” future terribly exciting. If consumers had to seek out advertising instead of the other way around, the world (or at least the internet) would likely be a far more beautiful and significantly more relevant place.