The Do Not Call Registry, I can kind of understand. Pop-up blockers, I can kind of understand. But DVRs?
People are asking for trouble by skipping ads. And 70 percent of people with DVRs are skipping ads. This isn't another column about people skipping TV ads with DVRs. (Although I do think every time viewers skip a TV ad, they should see a black screen with bold type that says, "Advertising pays for programming. Soon, you'll have to pay for this program if you keep hitting that button.")
What I want to talk about is Internet ad blocking software -- and how useless it is.
There's a fine line between "advertising" and "annoying." As stated above, I can understand the consumer's annoyance with pop-ups. As many in this industry have observed, a few advertisers and publishers abuse the user experience to the point where users feel they have no choice but to block pop-ups. Now there are pop-up networks that have found ways around the pop-up blockers; they deliver pop-ups to users who clearly don't want them. A few have taken it too far. They've really crossed the line.
But there's a big distinction between pop-up blockers and ad blockers. The ad blockers I mean are the ones that remove all advertising from publisher sites. I refuse to mention any by name because I don't want to promote them in any way. Equally, I can't imagine why anyone in advertising would want to remove ads from their online user experience. If you work for an agency or a publisher and you use an ad blocker, shame on you.
I understand consumers get tired of advertising. They're inundated by it every day, and it's only getting worse. But I have a hard time finding any real consumer benefit to Internet ad blockers other than page-load time. Is it simply the personal satisfaction of not having to view ads online?
As for the people who put ad blockers out there, well, some of these companies don't even charge for them. Are they so mad at corporate America they want to throw a wrench in the system? Get over it. Please.
The reality is something must change. For example:
There must be an exchange. Either the consumer pays for the content with attention to the ad message or via a subscription. The latter may happen in the future, but we must count on the former now. As interactive marketing professionals, we need to consider ad blockers' effect on our business.
It's a fine line. Which side of that line are you on? Let me know what you think.
Nominations are open for the 2004 ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards.
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