Ad Madness

Opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of MRD.

Every 1st of the month comes and there's no shortage of topics to discuss in a blog article. However, the tricky part is writing about something which you, the readers, have interest. This time though, there's an obvious choice. Which makes it trickier still to present in a way that hasn't already been.

You by now, no doubt, heard of what's happening in the U.S. regarding ISPs (Internet service providers) soon having ability to collect and analyze their customers (perhaps your) browsing data for the purpose of selling targeted ad space. Legal details won't be discussed here. Nor shall privacy implications. We won't even get into technological aspects much. Please find such discussions elsewhere if desired. There's plenty. What will be discussed here though is the whole online ad biz in general, and with this significance in mind.

When last in the U.S., the number of ads popping up on my mobile device over local WiFi was a very unwelcome surprise. Having heard much discussion of "ad wars" on U.S. news, nothing could have prepared me for the real thing. What a nuisance!

So, imagine if additional actors (i.e. ISPs) in the whole pipeline start injecting their own ads atop sites, which may already have THEIR own ads of course. The nuisance would be multiplicative. Of course, this could only be done in unencrypted HTTP connections. Maybe this is why, or partly why, Google has been pushing even non-security-sensitive sites towards using HTTPS, or face lower search rankings. They saw this competition a coming. Even with HTTPS though, ISPs will likely push adds before desired content. For example, every time a link is clicked :-| Never mind customers may be in a hurry, or even an emergency.

One may be quick to argue this could be a free-tier service! Would ISPs offer such when they know most of the U.S. has no ISP choice? It's unlikely when customers are captive. Anyone been to and paid for a cinema yet THAT SHOWED COMMERCIALS!!! Yep, they're out there.

So even if there is a free-tier, customers with money to pay for Internet, commercial-free from ISPs, would be the only ones who can afford to shop for the things in ads. Yet adds will only reach those who can't afford to shop? Ah... smell that marketing mismatch!

Please don't misunderstand me. There's nothing wrong with a provider of goods and/or services wishing to get those to consumers who want/need them. But things are different now, and would-be providers of such need to carefully consider costs incurred and efficacy of advertising more than ever. Especially online.

The world has changed and is at all our fingertips now. All data needed to find, choose, and acquire that which accommodates wants/needs are simply right there. No ads required. Just a little imagination and faith someone or a company is out there providing it. Reviews are plentiful online. If interested in a product class, that's where one should go to suss out the desired product. Or have ads served from an already trusted source who is known to personally and professionally vouch, rather than being a sell-out. There's no need for a barrage of unsolicited ads anymore, hoping one will stick. Heck, the other day I checked an online review, and the damn ad that popped up, delaying my ability to watch desired material about the product, was for the product itself!!! What a waste of the advertisers money. Money that most likely would be have been better spent on making a better product that I would have bought.