Apparently the privacy advocates and the industry representatives have been calling each other naughty names while fighting over the issue of how to give people using the Web better ways to opt out of online tracking.
The stakes are high. On the one hand, we’re being data-mined up the wazoo. Companies track our online behavior and sell the information to advertisers. On the other hand, we get free access to all kinds of services and information on the Web, mostly paid for by that advertising. If the ad revenue dries up, we’re going to have to pay for those services.
For example, Google makes about $10 billion per year from advertising. Say they have a billion users — each would have to cough up $10 per year to replace Google’s ad revenue. But I don’t think it would actually work out that way. I think 50 million users — at the most — would pay. And that Google would shrink to a $5 billion company. Let’s guess that 50 million anonymous users are each worth $5/year to advertisers, yielding $250 million in ad revenue. So the 50 million users would have to make up $4.75 billion in revenue. It comes to $7.92 per user per month.
Those are cocktail napkin guesses, but the point remains — if we all opt out of online tracking we’re going to pay more in fees, get less service or — most likely — both.