There’s nothing we media types like more than talking about ourselves. So it’s not surprising that the debate around ad blocking, which took center stage in tech media this week after Apple’s iOS 9 update, continued to rage into the weekend.
Ad blocking is the practice of using an app or service to stop advertisements from appearing on websites you surf. If you’re new to the issue, you can read a great explainer here.
The short version: It threatens online media’s already tenuous revenue models, most of which rely on advertising dollars, and it’s been exacerbated by Apple in its new version of iOS, which enables its users to employ ad blockers for the first time on mobile. via recode.net
It's not the ad-blocker, it's the ads you deliver that make us want to block them.
The first line explains the dilemma for 'media types.'
There’s nothing we media types like more than talking about ourselves.
They tend to live in a cocoon, an echo-chamber. The recent presidential debates* shows what happens when cave-dwellers step forward into the light. They wave their arms, see boogie-men in every shadow, make loud noises and puff up their chests to sound smarter and appear bigger than they really are. Awkward for the audience. Same thing here.
I doubt any "media types" will read this anymore than they will listen to this podcast from the excellent TechDirt: Ad-Blocking Wouldn't be a Problem if Ads Didn't Suck So Much.
I mean, c'mon. Seriously. The market is ripe for meaningless distractions of all kinds. Cat videos, anyone? Vapid, mistitled, click-bait articles about almost interesting celebrities trend big and strong on Twitter. What can be more meaningless, vapid, misleading and empty than digital ads? Anyone? Yeah. And yet we hate ads. Huh. Wonder why?
Americans are desperate for distractions, for digital medications to sedate our minds and souls to, well, too many changes and too many stressors to start a list here. We're so in love with digital distractions that we're losing our ability to have conversations - you know two people, in person, live talking, making eye-contact, full sentences, full emotions. Look at the shtuff that goes viral. Pure entertainment, distraction and sedation at best.
We spend hours each day literally swiping our digital devices left to right or up and down in an effort to fight boredom or the chaos and tumult or sheer drudgery of our work, our lives.
We are a target-rich environment for anything, ANYTHING (Donald Trump?), entertaining and the least-bit shocking. We're on it, sharing it with everyone.
And yet, and yet, advertising can't recognize this market opportunity for their useless products. ( See the irony? It's like being the party of business and having two failed CEOs as your leading presidential candidates.)
I can't remember two things: 1. the last time I bought something from an ad; 2. the last time I willingly and consciously clicked on ad.
Sure, I've missed the itty-bitty x in the top right corner or lower left corner ... or wherever they hide it ... that you have to find first and then click in order to close the idea to see what you came to see. But advertisers will sell that mistaken click as a click and a bounce, the bounce being the fault of the website owner/client and not how difficult the advertiser made it to close their ad.
Hell, we're so desperate for entertainment and distraction (Facebook, anyone?) and the promise of a good deal we'll share every detail of our personal lives on these sites.
Here, take it, take my life. Stalk me everywhere I go, tracking me digitally and geospatially with my smart phone but just either entertain me or send me an ad that has something to do with anything of everything in my life I donate to you ... to help you better serve me.
The operative phrase is ... just either entertain me or send me an ad that has something to do with anything of everything in my life I donate to you ... to help you better serve me. Yeah. That's the operative phrase.
And yet, and yet, advertisers don't or won't**. Instead they offer up crap that's so meaningless, so insulting, so patronizing and misleading and badly placed that we're looking for our own solutions to "stop the madness." Enter the Ad-Blocker.
And those "media types" still talking to themselves about themselves cry foul.
OMG! We are the very foundation of a free and open internet! You can't block our crap, er, ads!
Where do we go from here?
Someone remind the ad industry that we'll watch anything. Then ask "So, why can't you make something we want to watch? After all, you're supposed to be creative and sophisticated marketers."
Someone remind the ad industry that ten years ago we were bombarded with up 5000 brand images a day. You in the ad industry have helped us build our own internal filters so we never see them. I imagine those in the ad industry will counter with "So, what's a few more?" Obviously, it's where we break up. Jeezus. And this time, it really is YOU.
Someone might remind the ad industry that um, the data shows you're the least effective means of generating interest, prospects, initial sales and repeat sales. Word-of-mouth by customers and employees is far more effective. Has been, always will be. Wanna know why? Cause we trust each other, not you.
You've been taking us for granted like GM took the American market for granted and kept building big trucks when everyone wanted hybrids. They built them because they offered the biggest profit margins for them. And despite huge tax credits for businesses buying these trucks, they couldn't sell them. And they needed bankruptcy and bailouts before they woke up.
I'm thinking the ad industry is going to go the same route. They're going to fall back on regulations to block the ad-blockers. A trade war between you and your market, making us - your customers - dislike you even more. Smart. Not.
Finally, someone remind the ad agencies the simplest solution is to make an ad that respects our time, doesn't interrupt our reading, respects our intelligence, reflects some interest of ours, is honest, takes us to the desired location (our desired location, not yours). I mean c'mon you've got neophytes on YouTube making 6 figures. Go consult with them. But stop wasting our time.
* Don't get all partisan with me. The Dems will have their debates, maybe. Until then it's death by a thousand slights or emails ...
** Here's a classic example. I'm watching James Brown on YouTube. The tune is Hot Pants. The ad they served up? An ad about Smokey the Bear and not starting forest fires. Yeah, okay, I see it. James Brown is hot ... he's singing about Hot Pants. Yeah, I see the connection.
The other one was for Eddie Murphy's skit: James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub. The ad I was forced to watch before the video started streaming? An ad for Target, something about plaids. Yeah, I see the connection. Not.
My local rec center was sending out so many email updates about the indoor hot tub ... It's their fault. See what I mean?