Ads = Evil
That seems to be the default perspective for many consumers these days. I’d like to propose a new equation those people should think about.
Something For Nothing = Something WORTH Nothing
I think that one of the most discouraging trends in society in the past couple of decades is the entitlement consumers feel to getting almost anything they care about for free or almost free. That can be music, TV shows, movies, wireless internet, cell service, whatever. If we have to pay, we’ll find a way around that and “pirate” it from some other source.
It’s the same kind of thinking that brands every car dealer a “crook” if he has the gall to try to get more for the vehicle than he paid the manufacturer for it. Apparently he should work for free.
Those same consumers, of course, scream when their employers try to get them to absorb a bit more of the healthcare costs that rise dramatically every year. And they certainly wouldn’t stand for an employer attempting to benefit from their efforts without paying them mightily for every minute of it. But somehow when they are on the other side of the table, things change.
Earlier this week I saw an Ad Age article about the “war on advertising” being waged by various ad-blocking software programs and new or soon-to-be available browsers and mobile operating systems. The focus seems to be on making it easier for consumers to avoid seeing ads.
Let me figuratively grab you by your earlobes, folks: quality content costs money to produce, and if you aren’t willing to pay for it directly, and can’t even bear to watch advertising from sponsors who are willing to pay for it on your behalf, it will stop.
It’s that simple.
The article talks about several respected media entities that are considering “fighting back” by refusing to deliver their content to devices equipped with any of the top 100 ad-blocking technologies. From my perspective, that’s absolutely fair. Good idea. Do it.
Here, smug audience members will say “Fine. Go ahead. I have lots of other choices.” Yes, that’s true. You can go find plenty of “content” produced with less quality by less talented people with no meaningful credentials. One sad byproduct of our world’s cultural development is that millions of people have been trained to ignore or not recognize the difference.
Sure, it sounds heroic and liberating to say “We are all publishers now.” It shouldn’t, because most of us are lousy, opinionated, and untrained publishers. Would “We are all doctors now!” create the same exhilaration?
Don’t get me wrong. Ads have to get better. Agencies and other message creators need to continue to find more welcome and less invasive ways of building and maintaining consumer relationships. But advertisers are NOT the enemy, any more than your mail carrier, your local grocery store, and your dentist. They all make their living by providing you something you value.
The New York Times enhances your life, too (or would if you would let it). Why is it so unfair for them to want to feed their families while doing it? If you don’t like the ads, don’t buy the products. But make no mistake about it – by working so hard to isolate yourself from ad messages, you are slowly but surely killing the messengers. That will hurt you, whether you realize it or not.