My last couple of posts got me thinking. I put my name on a no-call list so telemarketers would stop trying to sell me stuff I didn’t ask for; I set up my new Google toolbar to block pop-up ads; I’ve never seen a commercial on anything I watch with my Tivo; same for my 100 XM Radio channels.
I understand the content-for-attention value proposition of “free” media. But the fact remains that most people will skip the commercials if they can. Is that stealing? Have I broken some unspoken agreement when skip past the commercials? I don’t think that’s the important question for advertisers (and the people that sell the advertising). How effective is a commercial (TV, radio, print, online) if it’s only being seen/heard/read because there was no easy way to avoid it?
The growing glut of SPAM and telemarketing calls has made me think about this more. These people are universally hated. And they know it. But they are willing to endure this because they’ve calculated that some tiny percent of the calls/emails DO work. We never thought about this with “old” media because it was so one-way. All radio and TV have commercials so if you want to watch Perry Mason, you’ll by-god watch the commercials. Does it really do any good for me to see/hear your commercial if I have a bad feeling about your company/product at the end of those 30/60 seconds? I supect the answer is –in some twisted way– yes. Yes, it does.