Art for Ads’ Sake

Eyebeam, the non-profit group that promotes “shopdropping”
— a tactic used by artists and activists to clandestinely place objects in retail stores — is out with ad-blocking software that substitutes art images for banners and tombstones.

The software is a version of “Adblock Plus” that works with Firefox to sub in unspecified art for ad placements. A New York Times story on the effort included comments from Web site owners lamenting the fact that someone has to pay for content and ad blocking robs sites of this ability.

Some types of ads, e.g. pop-ups, are offensive to most consumers, the majority of whom use blocking browsers and plug-ins to supress them. This has helped keep the level of pop-up and pop-under ads to 6 percent of total impressions, about where it was four years ago, says Nielsen/NetRatings.

The good news for advertisers is that by eliminating the most annoyed consumers from the pool, effectiveness of ads has risen. Eyebeam’s software may contribute to that effect, but it doesn’t take an advanced degree in mathematics to realize there must be diminishing returns. After all, as the number of consumers who use blockers, art-related or otherwise, climbs to 100 percent, Internet ads as we know them will no longer exist.

But given the power of the Web to target users, and indeed to deliver ads and offers that many of them want and seek, no doubt other ways to get the message out will materialize.

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