I’ve been hanging around the internet for a long time. I first went online in the Computer Lab at the Law Faculty in Edinburgh University. The experience was mostly based on pinging text around, and email was Pegasus I think. Around the same time, roughly 1991 to 1993, the Lab first started experimenting with Gopher and Mosaic.
National Geographic turns you away
Back then, the notion of netiquette was important and was, for the most part, observed, particularly in early mail lists and on Usenet. I remember when I encountered my first real troll, back when troll had real meaning as someone who went out of their way to antagonise other participants. The highest achievement of the successful troll was to provoke a flame war, the most virulent of which destroyed lists entirely. (Yeah, I know, what a fogey I am, getting nostalgic: ee lad, I remember when trolls were trolls, not like today, you lot ‘ave it easy, don’t know you’re born…)
One of the important things about those early days was that advertising on the internet was frowned on, and universally derided as spam. The world has changed, of course, and perhaps it is only oldies like me, who absorbed netiquette by osmosis and trial and error, who still have a visceral detestation of advertising on the internet. Are we spitting into the wind? Yes; but it is important, like cursive handwriting and tolerably good grammar.
These days, advertising is ubiquitous and all-pervasive. Many, if not most, commercial models seem to be built on advertising revenue, and freedom to advertise in as obtrusive a manner as possible is assumed to be an entitlement. However, as a consequence, consumers and end-users have taken to adopting adblocking add-ons to their browsers, and this is causing problems, especially for websites that suck on the advertisers’ tit.
So I was interested to read THIS and the link through to THIS.
They seem to me pretty much to nail it. Although I dislike advertising in principle, the reality is that you have to be pragmatic. And it isn’t as if paper copies of papers and magazines did not carry advertising. The difference is that online ads aren’t like the old static ads that just sit there on the page: they sing and dance and shout and scream, pop-up and pop-under and block access to content, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. And they presume to follow you around, working out what you like so that they can, wait for it, make the ads “more relevant”. What was that I was saying about entitlement issues? The notion that I might want to see as few ads as possible is not one of the relevant considerations.
It isn’t just online either. I watch little TV, but when I do I keep the remote handy to mute the sound if the channel I’m watching carries ads. I suspect the growth of HBO and Netflix, aside from quality content and innovation in presentation, has a lot to do with the absence of ads there too.
Part of the issue here is that we haven’t adjusted to the implications of the always-on, always-connected world. I don’t know how content providers are going to address the issue, but I’m pretty sure that it won’t be through the extension of the post-war advertising paradigm.
ADDED:- I reminded myself that back in 2008 I wrote:
Business models driven by advertising will likely fall in the face of increased awareness and use of advertisement blocking functionality as add ons to or integral parts of internet browsers.
It just took a bit longer than I expected.