There’s a civil war brewing. Like bacteria which grows stronger and more resistant to antibiotics, media consumers have grown resistant to advertising. Marketing scientists develop stronger advertising and new means of administering it, even mixing it into media (product placement and sponsored articles). Some ads garner the reaction of a placebo, for recipients do not feel advertised-to. Such softball lobs of ad-work lull unsuspecting consumers into the feeling that it’s safe to consume media through traditional channels again, then they get wise.
I was sitting next to Tom in class today and he mused that a lot of discussion about marketing is lost on him since he uses a third-party plug-in for his Firefox web browser which identifies servers, addresses, character-strings, etc. which could be construed as advertising and simply blocks them from loading. All of those blinking banners and blue boldface are missing as he peruses free online content. All those ink & paper periodicals were justifying making what they usually charge to distribute free online, because online advertising would make up the difference. What’s this? All that speculation that the internet would someday produce some positive cash-flow from ad revenue, and a widget dashes those dreams? Ha! Consumers: 1, Inter-moguls: 0.
I’m reminded of when I was an early Apple enthusiast and while watching Steve Jobs extoll the virtues of the latest OS X, announced the Safari web browser and that 2005 would be the year we go HD. I balked a bit because I owned a Canon XL1, a standard definition digital video camera with high-performance lens which could emulate a film camera’s 24 frame-per-second look. I also owned a share or two of Canon stock and was stoked that Apple were selling Canon in their retail outlets, a match made in videographer heaven.
My real point is that of all the glitzy new product announcements, the only one I use today is the one I paid the least attention to: Safari’s built-in RSS aggregator. I basically yawned when told that all of the color and images of the web could be avoided in favor of a text-only reader which would keep me abreast only of changes to the pages I visit most frequently. Today, I find that scanning one-paragraph previews of a host of updates saves me a lot of time, which alleviates my web-guilt.