Advertising Must Die

TL;DR

Advertising and privacy compromises are not the only ways to offset the cost of building and serving online content. Consider micropayment subscriptions and even other ideas — please — because privacy is more important and ads simply SUCK.☺

Advertisers must hate me. I mute TV ads. I multitask during ads in streaming video. I completely tune out / don’t see ads in web pages. Junk mail goes straight to the recycle bin. Emails get deleted without even reading them. Phone calls from unknown callers are ignored.

I absolutely despise being marketed to. If marketing is the attempt to sell me something I don’t need or want, I’m obviously on to that little ruse and it is a waste of your time. If there’s something I want or need, I know how to get it. Trying to play on my emotions or psychological flaws or character limitations is so blatantly obvious that I find it offensive.

The Internet

I use the Internet a ton. I make my living writing software to power it. It’s kind of a big deal in my world.

It’s interesting that most of it is free to use. Conversely, it’s quite expensive to build and serve. It’s like having a filet mignon dinner served by NS-5 units (with Rick Astley songs in the background and porn on the TVs while cats chase laser pointer dots) but the check reads $0.00.

How are the production costs covered and salaries paid? Advertising, of course!

“Excuse me sir, could you please fill out this survey with your median income, social security number, favorite movies, and a list of all relatives and pets going back three generations?”
“Hey! You’re using a fork! We have the best forks in the world, made from 99.9% pure unobtanium (bling!), for only $19.95! Supplies are limited, so ORDER NOW!”
“Are you hoping to get lucky tonight, but unable to perform like you used to? Blah, blah, inferiority complex, blah ….”

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather just pay for the meal.

Trade-offs

Many times with today’s web services, like Gmail or Facebook, we gain access to online services by trading off some privacy and putting up with useless ads. Sometimes our personal information is sold to other advertisers. We are tracked as we browse the Internet, creating more detailed portfolios of our interests and habits. We are being data-mined half to death, usually unaware that it’s happening, and we’re expected to be OK with it.

We can use ad blockers in our browsers, but they don’t always work, and some feel that’s “cheating”. Some will argue something to the effect of, “These services aren’t free to create, so it’s only fair to put up with adds and give up some privacy!” I say that’s a very short-sighted view of the possibilities.

Alternatives

There’s a movement in podcasting (and other realms of content creation) where some content creators are signing up for direct-funding, or crowd-funding, services like Patreon. This creates a different paradigm where consumers can pay directly for content, and usually one of the trade-offs is there are no advertisements to suffer through. Often, the consumer pays a very small amount, like $1 per month.

Direct payments and micro-subscriptions, or even something analogous to a hotel restaurant tab being charged to your room but in this case added to your ISP bill, make for a very viable alternative to advertising and eroding privacy.

Just as a la carte cable TV service doesn’t work for everyone, micro-payments for every website and online service you use wouldn’t work for everyone either. My point is that advertising is not the only way to cover costs — but it just might be the most annoying.

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