I'm not saying this is not a good idea, just that we shouldn't think Yahoo has graciously decided to forgo $3 million in badly-needed revenue just to help make a better world. All they're giving is a few hours of computer time to plug the banners into the right slots. Slots that would otherwise never have sold in a million years. This is a PR move by a company that the European press has been excoriating as "Pro-Nazi" for that total non-issue of people selling Nazi memorabilia online.posted by aaron at 11:06 PM on April 12, 2001
Not for those search terms. Thus the value is $0.
Can you think of a better way to express how much ad space was donated?
Yes. Tell us how many searches are run for those terms in a given month, for example. Put it in real-life quantity terms; don't even attempt to put a monetary value on it.
And yes, I do believe the average person reading the story now thinks Yahoo made a $3 million donation.posted by aaron at 12:46 PM on April 13, 2001
Yes, but what's important is whether there's any real possibility that money ever would change hands for it. Sure, you can place a monetary value on anything you want. I can put a lock of my hair on eBay and set the reserve at $3 million. But nobody's going to bid, because my lock of hair doesn't actually have that value, no matter what I might claim. An object only has the value that somebody is willing to pay for it.
You're probably right that the average person knows the difference between actual value and estimated value. But I still believe that most people will think that Yahoo generously gave away ad space for which the company otherwise really would have gotten $3 million, when they're really just saying, "Sure, come on in and put up your PSAs. Nobody was ever going to buy these spots anyway." And I have seen other news reports that made much of the $3 million figure.
Of course, it might be Morris Dees that's flaunting the dollar figure in his usual lust for attention, rather than Yahoo, but the result is the same. Whether or not the ad space has value isn't a big deal, of course; I'm just speaking about it in purely economic terms.posted by aaron at 1:56 PM on April 13, 2001
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