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December 11, 2007 / davebirss

And now for an advert from the BBC

An empty billboard

I’ve just found an article about the future of advertising on the technology section of the BBC news site. It highlighted to me a marketing habit that I find seriously depressing: the growing intrusiveness of advertising.

It talks about Corbis photos giving away their images free to bloggers with a small advert built in. And YouTube overlaying adds on selected clips. Apparently Microsoft are also working on an ad-supported free version of their Works software. I just don’t think it will be a very happy future for these companies.

Yes, we’ll always have advertising. As long as you have a captive pair of eyes a brand will try to use the opportunity to sell to them. What concerns me is the over-saturation of ads. The web is such a wonderful democracy, that if people feel intrusive marketing is ruining their experience of something, they’ll go elsewhere. I know that’s what I’ll be doing. In recent years, the negative reaction to unwanted pop-ups has managed to virtually eliminate them. The click-through rate of banner advertising is getting lower all the time. And ad-blocking plug-ins will surely kill them off eventually.

Brands need to think smarter. There’s plenty of opportunity for them to connect with consumers online. But interrupting people and shouting about a special offer is not the way to do it.

I’m dreaming of a brighter future. One where companies win over consumers in an honest, helpful and constructive way. I hope you’ll join me in that digital nirvana.

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