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Facing facts

Companies around the world are currently figuring out how they can monetise the mobile web.

Easy solutions are very few and far between. Even the big guys have been struggling, with Facebook being the most high profile.

But the social networking giant has now played its hand, announcing the launch of sponsored stories in mobile timelines.

It’s an obvious step, given that Facebook’s revenue model is essentially based on serving ads to pre-defined demographics. And it's likely to be welcomed by many marketers.

But it will also go down as another instance of Facebook forcing unsolicited changes on its user-base.

It’s clear that Facebook has never had a great deal of regard for the old fashioned notion that ‘the customer is always right.’ Indeed, it’s not even particularly interested in giving the customer what it wants.

And you can imagine the protest and complaints when people first start seeing these ads on their mobiles. But you can also imagine the same anger fading to nothing again, as so many of these outrages have before. A storm in an irrelevant social media tea cup.

But the debate does force us to seek an answer to one question: Is the secret to monetising mobile (and even digital in general) about all of us accepting that the internet we have all enjoyed for free for so long simply cannot survive forever?

Maybe customers are sometimes just wrong?