CONSUMER Thoughts on Abusive TV and Online Ads

TV ads and online computer ads in particular are getting more and more intrusive, abusive, generally obnoxious, and sometimes really harmful.  One of the podcasters I listen to has been discussing the issue.  He has a conflict of interest since his network is ad supported.  But, he at least tries to be fair and non abusive to consumers.  Here’s a note I sent to him on the subject, expressing my opinion.  It is modified slightly to make it more generic.

Hello podcasters.  I’ve been finding your discussions on the podcast regarding ads interesting.  I do see both sides of the fence, sort of.  But, as a consumer, the FIRST thing I’m going to do is protect my interests.  I have a number of thoughts, which you’re welcome to use on the show as you wish.

My ad policy on the web is the same as it is on tv – I disregard almost all ads.  Let me tell you who I am as a consumer.  I don’t think I’m uncommon.  I’m middle class.  I have limited discretionary income, space, and time.  I don’t need to be sold to.  I know what I need and want (for the most part) and I know what I can and cannot afford.  For an ad to stay in front of my face and for me to pay ANY attention to it, it has to be relevant to me.

I don’t need a new car, no matter how pretty.  I cannot afford it unless I wreck mine and then it’s going to be used and old.  I don’t need new car insurance.  I don’t need any of a dozen dangerous new prescription drugs.  I don’t need fat control drugs that probably don’t work.  I don’t need a new mortgage.  I don’t need the latest kids candy with all sorts of dye in it.

So, for 99.9% of ads on tv, within 3 seconds, or even if I’m buzzing past with the remote, I can see they’re not relevant to me.  At that moment, they’re dead to me.  I don’t need to be sold and I don’t need to be persuaded that I need something that I don’t.  The ad is gone.  I almost never watch live tv because it’s simply too painful and too much of a time waster to lose 25 minutes out of every hour to non relevant commercials.  I record almost everything and skip almost all ads.  I voluntarily get some electronics ads in email, which have lots of good geeky stuff.  But, for several weeks, I haven’t bought anything, since I have almost more tech now than I can maintain, and don’t have time or money or space for something else.  In case of one of your ads, (nothing against it) for (XYZ Co) shaving stuff, that ad will NEVER hook me.  Why?  I don’t shave except every 6 weeks or so.  (OK that may be unusual.)  And, I NEVER use a blade.  It’s clippers or electric razor for me.  I’m not the customer.  Your ads in the podcasts are fine, and occasionally useful to me.  But, I’m still skipping them if I’m not interested.

ASSUMING an ad gets past the relevancy test, there are several other things which will immediately turn me off.  If the ad fails any of these tests, it’s out.  Everybody’s preferences here will be different.  Some of these mainly apply to tv.  I’ll get to pc’s later.  The problems with pc based ads is one reason not to have a smart tv which could act similarly.

NO yelling, screaming, shouting – if so, it’s OUT.

NO morally crude or offensive content – if so, it’s OUT.

NOT corny, stupid and idiotic – personal taste, but, stupidity drives me away.  I don’t need my bottle of laundry detergent jumping up and down and talking.  (I think graphics design has hurt advertising.)  I don’t need to see someone acting like a moron on the screen.  I’m a (prominent insurance co) customer, but I hate most of their ads except the main one.  I’m an engineer.  Most things most people think are funny, I don’t.  Emotion is NOT what makes a great car a great car.  Most people who drive their kids around in a car love their kids.  BRILLIANT ENGINEERING is (presumably) what makes a great car a great car, so the owner can express his love safely to his riders.  If it’s stupid, it’s OUT.

For pc ads, FIRST and FOREMOST, I must be able to surf safely.  This means NO 3rd Party content and NO 3rd Party scripting.  It’s too dangerous.

I trust the MAIN site.  I may trust a CDN.  I trust somebody like PAYPAL for payments.  Etc.  THAT’s ALL.  PERIOD.

If an ad meets the above criteria, it must continue to satisfy these tests:

Most fundamentally, it cannot be intrusive and abusive.

NO popups – if so, it’s OUT.

NO takeovers – if so, it’s OUT.

NO animation, jumping, dancing, moving – unless I ask for it by clicking play or something.  If so, it’s OUT.

NO sound without me asking – if so, it’s OUT.

NO video without me asking – if so, it’s OUT.

NO changing the colors, fonts, windows, menus, status bars, or UI of my screen.  If so, it’s OUT.

NO hiding any elements of my screen or controls – if so, it’s OUT.

NO flashing ANYTHING – if so, it’s OUT.

And most of all, NO TRACKING me across sites!  PERIOD.  If so, it’s OUT.

So, if you want to advertise something to me which is relevant, reasonable, non offensive, non stupid, and affordable to me in time, space, and money; I might look at it / play it / consider it.

That’s it.

You and the whole industry needs to forget pay per click and pay per impression.  FORGET IT!

You need to focus on pay per action or pay per buy.  Give me a discount code for one of your various sponsors, which you generally do.  If I go there and buy, you know, and they know, you sent them the customer.  End of story.  That’s the only thing that matters.

Also consider a fremium model like what they’re doing on some podcasts.  Basic content is free / ad supported.  Patreons get bonus content.

Finally, you need to host the ads yourself and vet the ads yourself.  NO 3rd party proxy!  You take responsibility for not damaging my pc.

Well, those are my thoughts.  Use as you see fit.  I may be an advertiser’s worst nightmare, but I don’t think I’m that atypical.