Free Web Hosting. Free For Whom?

The costs of doing dot-com business, including a web hosting one, are increasing worldwide! Why, since the technology is becoming cheaper and more accessible?

When it comes to web hosting, the increased business costs come because of the strong competition, the larger number of market players and the rocketing prices of advertising and site promotion.

Branded or Outsourced Support

Hosting Businesses also need to pay more to hire qualified staff. Having knowledgeable employees costs much money and time to business owners. Most of them have hard choice to make – to outsource the customer care and support and to focus on business development or to brand the support by maintaining their own in-house customer care. The first solution saves money but does not provide the best quality, web hosts need to stay competitive! The second one inflicts very high costs of doing business!

The better way to go for smaller web hosts is to find a decent outsourced customer care solution so they should be able to provide 24/7 online support.

This is probably the only way for a small or middle-sized company, incorporated in North America or in Europe to be competitive in industry that welcomes a large number of corporate investment.

John Xie from Cirtex Hosting, a New York based Shared and Reseller web hosting company says that a combination of “In-house staff and outsourced support” works fine. A “good communication between staff and the training process are key steps” add Mr. Xie. His company’s hosting plans seem to be “fair suited and priced”. It doesn’t sell web hosting by chasing prospective customers by offering them enormous amounts of disk space and bandwidth, the way many hosts do. But he needs to be successful in competition with shared hosts that claim to offer monthly transfer and space limits similar to those dedicated server companies provide.
Free Web Hosting

At times when the shared web hosts are loosing profit and value, there is a boom of a free hosting providers, especially of “free image hosting” and “free file hosting” companies. The number of web sites indexed by Google on search term “free web hosting” almost doubled within the last 2 years.

Don’t get this wrong, it is a good for the industry to have a sufficient number of free web hosting companies. They host those web sites or single pages that belong to people who don’t care to much of their online business. In exchange of providing web hosting to them free web hosts display advertising on their pages! This model worked good for years until now.

The main reason it is not working properly anymore is the way that large advertising networks such as Google Adsense, Yaho Publisher, MSN and others work.

So-Called “Content Advertising”

Those advertising networks are build to get as much money from advertisers as they can! Some of them however do not focus on delivering quality and don’t offer a transparent model of online advertising. That provides their customers with poor return of their investment.

How do companies that charge nothing for the services they provide, make money? The answer is simple! Advertising systems like Google Adwords, Yahoo Publisher and others allow them to create accounts, to place an advertising code on their pages and to display text and image ads. When someone clicks on the ads dislayed, both advertising networks and publishers share the protit. The biggest part, up to 85% of the revenue goes in adv systems’ corporate pocket.

Free web sites receive a high volume of traffic because of the non-paid stuff they offer! Many of those sites welcome thousands of daily visitors, who come to their pages and click on the ads just because of curiosity. The point is that advertising networks such as Google Adwords and Yahoo Publisher encourage free service providers to display ads that feature advertising of paid services and products in the same target consumer niche. For example Google Adwords features text ads of companies that sell paid web hosting at free web hosting web sites.

The reasonable question is “Who will pay for something they receive for free”? The answer is that advertisers pay the high cost because the large advertising networks tolerate non-targeted advertising.

The practise that allows free hosts and other providers of free stuff to display ads related to their own service area is vicious and produces a high volume of fraud. It also makes so-called “content advertising” to be very non-targeted.

The Lack of Transparency

Two months ago I’ve decided to try Clicksor’s advertising network. This company claims it provides low cost advertising and it gained some positive reviews from advertisers and publishers. Once I signed up and started receiving visits from Clicksor’s publisher network I decided to check what kind of traffic did I get from them! One of my trackers showed the whole URLs’, my web site received clicks from. So I was able to see what kind of web sites sent visitors to mine. When logged to my Clicksor’s advertisers account I was not able to find this information.

Since it is time consuming to stay in front of your tracker, monitoring visitors I decided to ask Clicksor if they provide tracking information of the URLs’ that send visitors to advertiser’s web site. I send them an e-mail asking to I receive this informaton. Their customer service have been very straight. They said “No”! I asked for the reason they refuse to provide this information and I’ve been told “due to security and privacy reasons”.

So due to the same reasons I discontinued my campaigns with them.

An advertiser must know where do they receive their visitors from? If the advertising network does not provide this information, it is useless. Anyone who does not provide you with the information that is essential for your website business just waisting you money and your time!

About the Author

Dimitar A.
Dimitar is founder of the global Cloud & Infrastructure Hosting provider & European Cloud IaaS company RAX. He has two Decades-long experience in the web hosting industry and in building and managing Cloud computing infrastructure and IT ecosystems. Dimitar is also political scientist who has published books "The New American State" and "The New Polity". "The New American State" is one of the best current political books. It is focused on the change of the American political process. It offers a perspective on how the fourth industrial revolution, also called the Digital Revolution and Industry 4.0, marks the beginning of an era of deterritorialization.