Thursday, April 5, 2007

Ads everywhere

An innocent post on a email list today sparked a fairly long thread. Since I have nothing better to post about today, you get to read part of it.

Go to and search for MS campus in Redmond, WA [ed: 1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052]. make sure you have selected 2D view. Then follow 520 to come to MS campus. Then install the 3d plugin [ed: only needed if you've never used Virtual Earth] and look in the 3d tab. You should see a giant Windows Mobile billboard. Clicking on it takes you to the Windows Mobile home page.

Okay, so a little post about 'hey, look at this neat thing I found' doesn't seem very important does it? Well, it spawned a number of messages about people being pissed off about how advertisements are popping up everywhere. There were comments about TV, billboards, newspapers, etc. Eventually people started to distinguish between ads that were placed in 'free mediums' to help pay for things, and the obvious rebuttal of "I paid $10 for a movie ticket, why are their ads before it, I've already paid my fair share" came up.(well there were two common options, cable tv was the other).

I think it is important for companies to hear my opinion, since it contradicts their "customers are lazy they'll put up with commercials" philosophy. One of my responses is as follows:

I haven’t been to a movie in a theater in, oh, 3 years.

I have a Sony Series 1 TiVo, a Humax Series 2 TiVo, and a TiVo Series 3 (Dual tuner, HD). In addition to my NetFlix subscription, I’ve recently activated an Amazon UnBox for those times when I don’t feel like watching one of the 3 NetFlix DVDs I have. I’ve never bought a video off the iTunes Store, but I’ve bought a number of TV episodes and several HD movies off the Xbox Marketplace. I subscribe to satellite radio (XM), and have an iPod in my car, but I do listen to local radio stations as long as they aren’t ad-heavy.

When I surf the web at home I rarely see ads thanks to some web filtering software I use. I’ve use local dns files on my machine to override those green underline junk ads that are sometimes difficult to block. At work using the web is brutal because I haven’t spent time to figure out what a good filter plugin for IE is, and I only use FireFox rarely on my PC. When I check out stuff from my smartphone, I generally search with images off to avoid ads, only turning images back on when I’m on a specific page. My inbox at home is protected by a fairly aggressive spam filter.

I support websites that I’m interested in by purchasing merchandise that they sell (i.e. a site that sells t-shirts or whatever), by purchasing a subscription if I really like the site, or in some cases follow a link to buy something from a sponsor site if it is clear that the site will benefit (i.e. the site owner posts a message about buying some piece of merchandise from a 3rd party site using a referral URL).

I reward clever commercials by viewing them at all (if I’m ffwd through a tv show and something catches my eye), and talking about them with friends. I penalize companies who have in annoying/insulting/inappropriate ads by not buying the product they are advertising and sometimes by not buying anything else from them. I talk a lot, people hear when I’ve ceased business with a company. I penalize products or websites with inappropriate ads by writing the site owners, etc. (MSN used to post rotting foot fungus ads on the cooking pages, ummm)

/Hello, my name is Don, and I am ad averse

Since posting that I've received a number of responses, mostly praise this time (my email tends to polarize, I don't know why!). There are a few extra things I could have stuck in my original message though. Like focused ads in specific magazines. I occasionally read some computer-related magazines, and I get a Photoshop User and photography magazine on a fairly regular basis. There are often ads for new products in them, and I think that is fine. They inform me of a new product which I can then go seek out reviews on. They also do not interrupt my viewing of a TV show or my reading of a web page (like the horrible ads on MSN that go full page over the text until you hit 'dismiss', I will never buy a product based on one of those). The 'advertorials' that appear in some of these magazines (Wired has at least one every issue) suck. They appear to be special sections of the magazine, written in an editorial style and made in a format that appears like other articles of the mag, but somewhere on the page in small print is a warning that it is actually a paid advertisement. Those annoy me.

But, bottom line: Every single white pixel on my screen, and every single building sidewall, and every single car (yea, there are a lot of cars driving around with full ad-wraps around here) does -not- need to be covered in advertisements. They don't work on me, they just piss me off.

Evolve you freaking morons.


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