“Advertising will go poof”

Does it do me (as an advertiser) any good to force someone to watch or listen to a commercial for my product or service, if they don’t want to? I can argue that my commercial is what paid for the free TV show they’re watching so it’s only fair that they watch it. Doesn’t matter. If the ad is about something I don’t care about (most of them)…Tivo fast-forward.

If you can find a way to show me ONLY the ads I care about, I’ll probably watch them. But Dave Winer says the end of advertising (as we know it) lies at the end of that road:

“When they finish the process of better and better targeted advertising, that’s when the whole idea of advertising will go poof, will disappear. If it’s perfectly targeted, it isn’t advertising, it’s information. Information is welcome, advertising is offensive. Who wants to pay to create information that’s discarded? Who wants to pay to be a nuisance? Wouldn’t it be better to pay to get the information to the people who want it? Are you afraid no one wants your information? Then maybe you’d better do some research and make a product that people actually want to know about.”

I think what Winer is saying is that once you get the right information…about the right product (specifically for me)… you won’t HAVE to pay someone to put it in front of me. I will already have made that happen or have facilitated it. I WANT to know more about your product/service. At that point, it’s no longer advertising.

The point he’s trying to make is a subtle one and hard to grasp if you’ve grown up bombarded by radio and TV ads. For better or worse, we won’t have to wait long to find out if he’s right.

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