Ning’s withdrawal of free social networking begs the question: was it going in the wrong direction from the start?
The fact that Ning has just announced that it is withdrawing it’s free (‘ad-supported’) social network platform will come as a shock to many people who accepted Ning’s invitation and invested time and energy into building their own social network based on the Ning format. Existing members will be offered the opportunity to pay or leave.
Clearly the ‘ad-supported’ model isn’t bringing Ning the return it expected or needs. I’m not surprised. I almost never click on Google Ads and nor does anyone else I know. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this can’t bring the kind of returns on investment that people are looking for. So out goes the ad-supported model and in comes the ‘pay for service’ model – and that can’t be good news for the Google Ad model.
If Ning made a mistake with its business model, maybe it made an even bigger one in its underlying assumption that people want to create, populate and control a social networking environment when in fact, all they want to do is participate in the ones that are already out there, fully populated, like Facebook and Twitter.