Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Mimsy Were the Technocrats: As long as we keep talking about it, it’s technology.

Wallow with pigs, expect to get blocked

Jerry Stratton, March 9, 2010

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Back when I listened to the radio, I would often switch from radio to cassette tape when a particularly obnoxious ad came on. Once I switched to cassette, I left it on cassette for the rest of the drive.

Back when I watched television, I rarely left the room as soon as the ads came on. I left the room when an uninteresting ad came on. Then I’d come back a couple of minutes later to finish watching the show.

Today, I very rarely block ad servers; I only do so when a particularly obnoxious ad appears on my browser window. I’m lazy and cheap. I don’t even own ad-blocking software, which is part of why I rarely block: I have to go into my router settings and add the domain to the list of disallowed hosts. I don’t like going there because I’m lazy; but for the same reason, once I add an adserver to that list, it stays in that list.

I didn’t turn off the radio because I wanted to turn off the radio, and I don’t block ad sites because I want to block ads. I’m blocking a particular ad. Don’t run that ad, and I won’t block your ads. I love ads. I used to buy magazines such as 73, 80-Micro, Dragon, Rainbow, and even Omni, as much for the ads as for the content. I even loved the weirdo ads in Sheet Music Magazine. Back in the late nineties, there was a web site devoted to cool ads which I visited regularly.1 That’s where I first saw the tda advertising & design ad. I enjoyed it so much I still show it off whenever the opportunity arises.2

I used to love the little catalogs that came with products, from TSR’s Gateway to Adventure to the Meade optics catalog that came with my brass pirate telescope. And I read the Trader Joe’s flyer every time it arrives. When I was in college, our TV was set to an all-ads station whenever we had the time for it. 3

So, no, I’m not blocking ads because I hate all ads. I’m blocking your ads because I hate some of your ads. Some of the ads you run are obnoxious. I see an ad that is especially obnoxious, and I block that ad’s server. I see that Flash is used to make most of the most obnoxious ads (and it crashes my browser to boot) so I block Flash.

Stop running obnoxious ads, and I won’t block any more. And remember, I’m lazy: the easiest way for me to avoid obnoxious ads is to avoid the sites that display them. On sites of marginal interest, I’m closing the window because I don’t feel like reading the article or watching the video while that obnoxious ad is playing. And I probably don’t come back, because, while I don’t remember closing the site I do remember a general bad feeling about it.

So if you’re an advertiser, and you’re running an ad using an adserver that also runs ads of fat stomachs morphing into thin stomachs, I’m not seeing your ad. If you’re running your ad on a site that also runs that ad, there’s a good chance I’m closing that site and not bothering to come back. Now, the advertiser who is running the weight-loss ad I just mentioned is probably feeling good; they’re saying that I remember their ad, and memorable ads are half the battle. Perhaps they’re right. But the ad that came on after theirs? I don’t remember it. I never saw it. Being obnoxious might not hurt them, but if your ad follows theirs, it does hurt you.

Back when I listened to the radio and watched TV, I occasionally wondered if advertisers cared about which ads preceded theirs. Because ad avoidance in those days was episodic, it probably didn’t matter a whole lot. I usually turned that radio station on again, and I watched television based on whether the show was good, not the ads. Today, advertisers don’t have it that easy. There are enough choices of where to browse, and enough choices of how to browse, that you can’t assume I’m going to eventually see your ad when you advertise on sites with obnoxious advertising. If you want me to see your ad, you need to care what other ads are on the venues you choose.

  1. adcritic.com. It died, because a site totally dedicated to advertising couldn’t get enough revenue because too many people wanted to watch the ads.

  2. Such as now.

  3. I watched MTV non-stop in the mid-eighties, and it was nothing but ads for rock albums one after the other.

  1. <- iPad as automobile
  2. Turing hurdle cleared? ->