You're right, I was a bit unclear about what I meant. I was trying to contrast the "traditional" ads (TV, newspapers, billboards...), which are horrendously annoying, because they tend to consume ... (how much? I don't know precisely, but a good share of) your attention, with the, errm... social media economy (for lack of a better word).
Both are not directly asking money from you, but both are hoping to make money with you. I'm intentionally (over)simplifying the following. The former, traditional, model (TV, newspapers, ...) is hoping to make money by making you buy select products. It's still a lot of guesswork, because the publishers don't know who they effectively reach, and the advertisers even less. They have rough estimates about numbers and target groups (like, the target group for a breast-feeding course is different from a Wrestling event is different from a golden Bible sellout), but they are just that: estimates. They are hoping to reach some audience, but that doesn't have a personal effect on me. I might in fact be a fanatical christian female wrestler who just had her first baby.
Facebook, Google, Twitter... are also not asking for money from you. In fact, they're doing everything to make you more comfortable in their nests. Why? Not because they want to spend millions every month to maintain their infrastructure, in order to have you feel comfortable.
So again: where do they get their money from? Did you really, seriously, honestly, think about this? None of these companies is even trying to keep it secret: they're making their money through advertising, just like TV stations. With one fundamental difference: where the TV station is simply flooding the region without knowing the recipients, Facebook (from now on taken as a running example) knows everything about you: your location, your interests, your FB history and pretty much every FB-enabled site on the Web (and of course also whether you liked it.... or not(!)).
In a sense, Facebook's business model is just like the newspapers' one - but also much more dangerous... They're selling potential customers (you) to potential clients (advertisers). So, you have been looking online for cheap used cars, sold your sports equipment and googled about mortgage rates? Not looking good, but hey, you might want some of our dead cheap life insurances, or maybe a medical trip to Mexico to cut expenses. Huh?
Oh... You have looked for contraceptive advice lately, and booked some budget motel stays from our partner companies. Hey, how about our super-confidential weekend stay in the 4 star lovers' lounge at a 50% discount?
And how about some cheap funeral institute in your area? Your recent requests relating to "terminal cancer" suggest that you do...
Bullshit? No! It's reality, wake up! Maybe not as "plastic" as described above, but pretty close, and getting closer every day.
BTW, this discussion was about the annoying options screen appearing after some book has ended.