You might think this is a no-brainer, but in today’s market, people are consistently incapable of distinguishing between the two. At a certain point, let’s say in the early 2000s some companies operating on the internet came up with the single greatest market innovation in decades. No, it wasn’t new technology, it was a new idea.
If you could invest in and build a service, give it away for “free”, then you could create a dedicated viewer base, which would be your actual product. This was the point where factory farming met internet services. Cows get fed, watered, in some places they even get massages. The whole point of doing that, feeding, watering, massaging – is to fatten them up to be consumed.
It was a masterful idea, it was brilliant, and genius. Today you have companies like Google $GOOGL, Facebook $FB, Twitter $TWTR, and even companies like Apple $AAPL, which masquerade as tech companies, but are really just advertising agencies. Instead of targeting advertisement of their product to a wider consumer audience, these companies turn consumers into the consumed, and have a B2B model of selling their consumer livestock to the highest bidder.
Think about it. What has $GOOGL ever really done or invented? The simple answer is: nothing. Nothing that google did was particularly innovative. Networking a bunch of computers together for distributed computing was already a thing people had done. I was there when $GOOGL won the search engine wars. The idea google sold to users was not that their search was particularly the best, but that they didn’t allow companies to pay for placement in search rankings. We all see how today, they’ve reversed that position (though they kindly delineate between paid placement etc.)
I don’t consider this a problem in and of itself. I’m not anti-advertising. I simply find it ironic that 15 years ago, what all of us thought was the shining gold star deserving point for Google has essentially been turned on its head: once it won the search wars, it essentially did what every Eyeore said it would do.