Real Time Communications Featured Article

Will There Be Ads in Our Real Time Communications Future?

June 24, 2015

With the proliferation of real-time communications options, the real question emerges about how to properly monetize real-time communications.

The cost of running real-time communications solutions is far less in most cases than traditional calling and messaging architectures, but it isn’t free and real-time communications providers are not running their operations as charity. There needs to be a viable economic model.

Yet with so many options and firms such as Facebook and Google willing to subsidize their real-time communications solutions as part of a larger feature set, making money off of real-time communications for much longer might start to be a trick.

This is not a new issue; it is one that media organizations have been tackling for some time. Real-time communications providers can look to the various ways that media have tried to monetize their offerings since the advent of the Internet as one place to find inspiration and dead ends.


One way to monetize, of course, is advertising. But the question must be asked: Will consumers be willing to accept advertising in exchange for free real-time communications services?

On the face of it, yes. You already see consumers making this choice when they download and use free apps for their smartphone that have advertising. Consumers are now quite used to ads in exchange for free services. Real-time communications providers that offer text, chat, video, voice calling and file transfer in exchange for a little ad display are already thriving.

Long-term, however, it is doubtful that this model will last.

That’s because real-time communications is just too ubiquitous. It is getting too easy to deploy, and users have so many options. Why choose a method that serves ads when other providers are offering roughly the same without ads? Maybe real-time communications firms that only offer communications services will not offer ad-free experiences, but surely other firms that use real-time communications as part of a larger service offering basket will.

If the real-time communications experience is dramatically better, or more specialized, the ad model might still hold water. But it remains to be seen whether there is much that can dramatically differentiate one real-time communications offering from another long-term.

So today, ad-supported real-time communications works. Long-term, however? It may not.

Article comments powered by Disqus

  Subscribe here for RTCW eNews