Why I don’t (always) hit “skip ad”

I once worked with a journalist who told me she always talked to telemarketers.

She was used to cold calling people, asking for a few minutes of their time and getting rebuffed. Everyone hangs up on telemarketers. She said she knew what that was like.

Telling a brand’s story means you’re asking customers for their time. It’s not as invasive as a phone call (somehow always during dinner), but it means sticking your content in the middle of everything they’ve chosen to consume.

It’s like eating at a restaurant and, before your second course, the waiter hands you a flyer for his band’s show. You chose to be at the restaurant (the platform), you chose your meal (the brands and individuals you follow), but you didn’t choose the waiter (the ads). He chose you. Why?

Maybe he overheard you seeking plans later that night. Maybe you even asked him for ideas about nightlife around town. Maybe he just thought you seemed like the type of people who would like his show because the people who sat down last week ordered similar things and wore similar clothes and they came out and loved it. The waiter, like the advertisers who pursue you, paid attention.

This is why I watch the ads. Not just because I work in marketing and I appreciate they are just doing their job.

I watch them because they are for me.

What else in your life is more catered to you than your Internet experience? Absolutely nothing.

I will watch television commercials during PVR’d episodes of shows. I click on sponsored posts. And yes, sometimes I even forgo the “skip ad” button on YouTube.

Ad blocking grew by 41% between 2014 and 2015. It costs publishers billions and billions of dollars. Browser extensions make it easier for people to ensure they only consume the content they want. And, technology should make people’s lives easier.

But, think of the good advertising has done. Every necessary story told in newspapers throughout history made possible by ad dollars (side note: the first known newspaper ad was for a Long Island estate in the Boston News-Leader). Think of the jobs enabled by advertising. Think of those Hotels.com ads that make me wheeze.

Without advertising, the Internet doesn’t exist. It has enabled us to have literally anything we want at our fingertips and, apart from what we pay our service provider, it’s largely free.

I don’t expect everyone to feel this way. Our attention spans are shortening and there’s an abundance of content to get through. We don’t want to take that extra 30 seconds waiting for our song/show/cat video to start.

Advertisers are getting more creative, too. The more followers you have, the more likely you can market yourself for mega brand placement. Kendall Jenner can make up to $300,000 per #instaendorsement. Ad blockers haven’t found a way to stamp out product placement — yet.

If you don’t like ads and never will — fine. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of the promotional arts. But, remember what I said about the Internet catering to you? Sit back and bask in it. Take it as a compliment.

You might find yourself a nice new subscription box/fitness regime/vacation destination/content marketing suite/whatever else you’ve told Google you’re maybe into.