Monday, January 16, 2006


Internet advertising is whack

I used to be able to completely tune out the Yahoo ads. Weird letters flying around, percent signs dancing in front of a house in silhouette, all of it – I didn’t even have to try to ignore them, because they never registered in the first place.

Now the ads on my Yahoo account are dedicated in full to female models. I still don’t know what they’re advertising, because reading and storing in memory the advertiser’s logo would take conscious effort. Their advertisers gain no sales from me, and I gain no useful information from them. But they have finally succeeded in distracting me, sometimes severely. Yesterday I surfed a lingerie catalog that they brought to my attention. I still don’t know whose it was.

Here’s another bizarre business arrangement: some British kid’s idea for putting himself through college. He auctioned off the individual pixels of a webpage for a dollar apiece on EBay. He called it the Million Dollar Homepage, and advertisers on it have in fact made him a millionaire.

I am dying to know what sort of media formats we will “end up with” in the next century. Will advertisers yearn for the days of a more captive audience? Will we the hyper-free audience yearn for the days of free stuff, paid for by advertisers too stupid to realize they weren’t reaching us? As consumers’ gain the capacity to navigate the set of commercial goods and services faster, more accurately and more thoroughly, will advertising become less relevant, because we already know exactly where to get what we want? Will advertisers react by targeting younger, less search-savvy and more easily suggestible audiences? Can they do that any more than they already do?

[Hat tip to The Agitator re. the Million Dollar Homepage.]

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