My War On Ads!!!

Is it me, or am I seeing an explosion of ads on the internet?  First it was on page ads, then pop-up ads, then double pop-up ads, and now we’re seeing new kinds of animated ads attacking us from the  bottom up, or expanding out from the sides of our web pages.  We’re forced to see video ads that demand 30 seconds of our precious time – when will it be 60 seconds?  This sucks.  If I had to watch ten 30-second ads a day, that would be 300 a month, or 1.5 hours a month devoted to waiting to see content.  I’m getting old, and time counts, because it’s running out.

Everywhere I look there is bait to trap me into viewing ads.  Are we intelligent beings seeking information, or just gerbils being trained to click on ads.

ad-traps

Again, is it me, or is the web content changing, so as to trick us into seeing more ads by offering more prurient content?  Many sites are sexing up their article come-ons, either with sexy photos, or with outrageous titles, or tempting us with juicy tidbits of gossip, to get us to click to read, only to force us to wait through one or more ads before rewarding us with their lame-ass stories.  Often a promised video news story is shorter than the ads I have to watch to pay to see it, and often that news is seldom worth seeing.

I completely understand that nothing in life is free and I have to pay for my lunch, but some techniques used by contemporary publishers are just so damn annoying that it makes me want to avoid their wares completely and the products they advertise. 

This morning The Mail promised me story about adult elephants rescuing a drowning baby elephant, but when I clicked to see the video they asked me which ad I wanted to watch.  Neither were appealing, so I just closed the window.  If they had had an ad for something I’m interested in I might have watched, but most ads are for things I completely don’t care about.  The time it takes to watch them are a complete waste of my life.

That’s what I do more and more, close the window or tab, rather than see the ads.  I’ve even thought about going back to paper magazines to learn about the world, because web page ads are ruining the internet for me.

Demanding Our Attention

I understand that reading on the web requires seeing ads.  Ad supported sites are the norm.  However, the visual bombardment of ads on landing on a web page seems to be escalating to the point that I wished I could tell Chrome and Google to ban some sites for the rest of my life.  The other day I went to a site that resized the screen to blow up ads on the right and left, and along the bottom of my screen.  And pop-up windows with ads is becoming the norm.  And audio ads that automatically turn on are growing in popularity too, even though they are extremely annoying.

Advertisers are finding ways to capture our attention and not let it go until we’ve seen what they want us to see.  I hate that.  I wish there was some way to send you the finger online.

I’ve learned from growing up reading newspapers and magazines how to tune out passive ads.  And I’ve tried Chrome extensions like AdBlockPlus, but it doesn’t work perfect, and I’m not really sure it’s kosher.  I’m willing to pay for my supper, if it’s reasonable.  That’s the trouble with internet ads, they aren’t reasonable.  Neither, are television ads.  Or phone soliciting.  Because I don’t subscribe to cable, I get over-the-air TV, which is chock full of ads. 

A big portion of my retirement life is avoiding ads.  It’s becoming a war.

Ads want our attention, and that’s understandable.  If only I only had to watch or read ads for things I was interested in.  The advertising world is based on grabbing our attention, but I can’t believe all the expense they go to in gaining our attention is practical.  How many people actually buy something because of an ad?

What we need is a new ad paradigm. 

Information in Slide Shows

A common trick now is to have a sensational topic that involves 12, or 15 or 25 pages of slides.  Each segment of the list involves reloading the page, and thus regenerating ads.  Isn’t this just web page trickery to add counts to their ad counters?  Part of the problem is not the advertisers, but the publishers.  All too often content on the web is geared to making us click.  Just how much worthy news do we need each day.  Certainly not enough to fill millions of web sites.

We’re just rats in the maze being taught to click.  That’s not good for us, or for people selling stuff.  I want people who have something worthy to sell to succeed, but find success with people who need and want their products.  I hate that the internet has become a click factory generating economic activity.

Man, we really need a new ad paradigm.

How Could Things Be Different?

Aren’t web cookies, the NSA, credit card transactions and cash register scanners already supposed to know what I buy?  Why can’t I log into a web site daily and see ads meant just for me and earn some kind of ad income credits to be automatically spent as I go to web pages during the day?  They could see I’ve already prepaid and let me look at their content without annoying me.

I’m willing to pay not to see ads.  I subscribe to Rdio, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Warner Instant Classics so I don’t have to see ads.  I also subscribe to Hulu Plus, and they force me to see ads, which seems incredibly unfair.  I’m seriously thinking of canceling them because of this.  If I pay for a subscription I should NOT have to see ads.  I also subscribe to The New York Times, and their site does have ads, but so far they aren’t too annoying.  Yet, every time they interrupt my reading with a pop-up, I think about cancelling my subscription.

There’s got to be a better way.  However, I don’t think Advertising Age disciples are thinking in that direction.  Generation Like, as one PBS documentary called our young people of today, not only accept ads, but embrace them, becoming marching morons for advertisers and these kids don’t even understand the phrase “selling out.”  Our modern world has become so Orwellian in ways that George Orwell failed to foresee.  He thought only communism would use Newspeak to conquer the masses, not understanding that capitalism would use it too.

In my war against ads and telemarketers, I feel like I’m Winston from Nineteen Eighty-Four always seeking ways to avoid the view screens of Big Brother.  John Varley wrote the classic paranoid science fiction story about machine intelligence called “Press Enter _” back in 1984.  In it, his character moves off the grid and won’t use anything electrical to escape from an evil intelligence living on the net.  Is that the only way to escape the advertising world?

Take Up the Cause!

Watch what you click.  Don’t encourage the enemy.  Close those windows.  Don’t go to sites that take advertising too far.  And please some of your brilliant tech gurus, invent some way for people to market their wares to people who want them without making billions of us not have to see trillions of ads we don’t want to see.

JWH – 5/14/14

Ad Pollution

In these bad economic times, it might be heresy to attack marketing, but advertising is starting to crush my innate cheery disposition.  The web is being choked with ads, reducing the signal-to-noise ratio so low that many sites and searches are worthless.  Google, the darling of weberati, whose motto is “don’t be evil,” has become corrupted by advertising revenue.  Slashdot.org should stop making Borg allusions about Microsoft, and start making them about Google.  Too often a search on Google leads to page after page of links to sites wanting to sell me something directly, or links that take me to honey-pot pages, with tiny bits of info nestled in large screen acreage of ads.  For the most part, I’ve replaced the World Wide Web with Wikipedia when I’m searching for knowledge.

I stopped listening to the radio decades ago because of advertising and annoying disc jockeys.  I can only watch TV because of PBS, HBO and DVRs.  I know people who have stopped watching television altogether because of the advertisements.  I’m quickly approaching the decision to stop going to movies because of advertisements.  The only place I don’t mind advertising is the Sunday newspaper, but I feel guilty about all that wasted paper.  Shouldn’t there be a better way?

There are sites on the web that will reward or pay you for looking at ads.  What we need are systems to bring ads to us when we need and want them.  There are times when I’m shopping that I would be open to sales pitches, and I wouldn’t even mind an AI shopping companion.  Marketing really should be on the basis of don’t call me, I’ll call you.

Are ads really effective?  Sure, sometimes.  Those “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” TV mini-dramas from Apple are effective at making me hate them for selling misinformation and promoting style. I’ve never bought a Mac.  Microsoft is miserable at creating ads, and I always buy their products?  Neither decision has anything to do with advertising.  When I want to buy something, I research it, and then look for the most convenient place to shop with the lowest prices.  And how often do you see ads on TV selling on the basis of price?  I suppose if Apple ran ads that said, “Buy the latest Mac Book with the hi-tech aluminum cases for $899,” I might rush out and buy one.  Instead they sell comedy on TV, without mentioning the details of their products, or the price of the one I want.  Me to Apple, if you want “me” to be a Mac, then sell that $1299 Mac Book for $899, and I’ll come visit your store.

My point is I’ll buy something I’ve studied if the price is right.  The rest of the time I’m just avoiding ads like I avoid mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, germs and viruses.  Of course, the real test of reality is whether or not the various forms of mass communication could exist without advertising.

If there were no advertising, how many television channels would we have?  How many TV shows would exist?  How many college sports programs would exist?  How many professional sports teams would exist?  Can you imagine racing cars without their advertising paint jobs?  HBO and PBS exist without advertising and have outstanding programs.

I’m not alone in my aversion to advertising.  It’s obvious some big economic bubbles have burst this year, and I’m wondering if the advertising bubble will not burst soon too?  As we move into a world-wide recession we’re going to see a lot of companies cut their advertising budgets.  Unless there is real proof that ads bring in dollars, companies will start seeing how naked their marketing programs really are, and close them down.  Recession has a way of cutting out the fat, and mean vicious recessions, like I’m guessing we’re moving into, trims away every gram of grease.

I would like to see more marketing along the HBO model.  I’d rather pay $5 or $10 a month per channel for a handful of quality channels, and abandon all the rest.  I’d rather pay a subscription fee to an online digital magazine if they could provide me the content without the advertising.  Theater owners and movie distributors need to cut the ads before people give up on going to the movies.  And that’s for three reasons.  One I hate seeing the ads.  Two I hate people trying to find seats at the last moment trying to avoid the ads.  And three, I hate that they waste my Saturday afternoon time.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  There are occasions when I want ads.  I’ve been meaning to buy some new shirts, and have wished I could get some stylish ones that fit better.  My wife complains about the constant boring shirts I wear now.  I wouldn’t mind going to a web site and telling it I’m in the mood to buy shirts and then see some healthy competition to market me new styles, especially if I had more choice in sizing and material.

I don’t know what to do about the web.  I can’t believe that all those web pages with Google ads really make enough money to pay their bills.  I was just researching on optical astronomical interferometers and I couldn’t believe the “Ads by Google” signs I was seeing on pages with links to scientific papers.  The reality is we have too many web sites trying to direct us to too few places with real content by paying for their useless help with web ads.  Go away.  Please, turn of your servers, and go away.  If you try to make money on the web by solely linking to other sites, you are worthless.  Google and other top level search engines can do all that work.

Comment to Microsoft, if you want to beat Google, offer a search engine that is based on subscription income and only provides links to 100% content.  I can’t guarantee it will work, but if you offered such a service for $19.95 a year, and you filtered out all commercial web pages, you might have an alternative to Google.  If I’m sick enough of Google’s commercial results and willing to pay, there might be others like me.

This recession is going to shake up how we earn money and how we spend money.  Inflationary bubbles will be bursting everywhere.  I think the advertising world will be one big bubble that’s going to pop big time.  In all the various mass market venues, we’re going to see disappearing players, fewer networks on TV, fewer magazines and newspapers, and fewer web sites.  I’m an ordinary guy, so if I’m reaching the tipping point of running away from advertising, I imagine there are lots of other ordinary folk feeling the same way.

JWH – 10-25-08