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Bright Hub: First, could you describe what exactly are ad-supported business applications? How do you make it so the ads are not overly intrusive?
Jay Hallberg: Ad-supported business applications are generally software applications that run ads somewhere within the user interface. Popular consumer examples include Google Search, Gmail or Yahoo! LinkedIn is an example that crosses into the business world, primarily around contact management. In the past we tended to think of websites and applications as different things. Now those lines have blurred.
Spiceworks is the first business application for a specific vertical, in our case IT, to employ the ad-supported model. Before Spiceworks, business software was traditionally sold through a subscription fee for SaaS applications like salesforce.com and through licensing fees for traditional desktop/client-server applications like Microsoft Word.
Spiceworks has taken great care to make sure the ads relevant, informative and unobtrusive. The ads are all for technology products and services which are relevant to our IT audience. We get lots of positive comments about the ads in our community postings. Users say they're not intrusive in any way and they find them educational. It helps them learn what kinds of products and/or services they should be considering to run their networks more effectively.
BH: What is the future of ad-supported business applications? Do you think we'll be seeing more of these especially in the SMB space?
JH: Absolutely. When we first came up with the idea of supporting a business software application entirely with an ad-supported model, people were very skeptical. Conventional thinking stated that IT pros would reject ads. We asserted that we are all consumers for the other half of our lives so why wouldn't it work in a business context. Plus people do business-related searches in Google and see relevant ads all day long. 500,000 users and 60 advertisers later, we’ve proven the skeptics wrong. We believe the model will work for other small business applications as well. We’ve already seen companies like Adobe, Google and Microsoft experiment with ad- supported business software models.
Spiceworks: Ad-Supported SMB Applications
Spiceworks VP of Marketing and co-founder Jay Hallberg talks about the future of ad-supported applications.