Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

Is advertising allowed on the Internet?

Answered by Michael Strangelove (
Note: Many of questions in this section are answered by Michael Strangelove (, publisher of the Internet Business Journal and an expert on the commercialization of the Internet.
It is surprising how many people still see the Internet as a noncommercial, academic, purely technical environment. Not so: today, about fifty percent of the Internet is populated by commercial users. The commercial Internet is the fastest growing part of cyberspace, doubling in size every year.

Advertisers spend billions of dollars every year to communicate their message to potential consumers. Now businesses are discovering that they can advertise to the Internet community at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. With tens of millions of electronic mail users out there in cyberspace today, Internet advertising is an intriguing opportunity not to be overlooked. When the turn of the century rolls around and there are one hundred million consumers on the Internet, we may see many ad agencies and advertising-supported magazines go under as businesses learn to communicate directly with consumers in cyberspace.

Note: Internet users who have accounts provided by their university or research institute are the single major exception to the "Business on the Net is OK" rule. It is almost certain that if you have an academic Internet account, you are forbidden to engage in commercial activity over your university's Internet connection. This may also hold true for many Free-Nets. If you are uncertain about local authorized use policy, ask your Internet provider or system postmaster.
As the Internet is not owned by any one company or nation, the only real restrictions placed on users are by the consensus of the virtual community itself. The key to effective Internet advertising is taking the time to learn what is and is not acceptable.

It should be noted that Usenet is no less commercial than the rest of the Internet. Gone forever are the days when the Internet was a private club for the techno-elite.

Potential advertisers take note: do your homework before blasting onto the Internet. This virtual community has some very strong feelings about inappropriate activity, and the penalties for incorrect advertising methods could be international hate mail to you, your boss, and your stockholders.

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