Like most of you who’ll read this, I HATE advertising. It is the glossy, airbrushed face of the devil. Raping my consciousness daily with thousands of messages I don’t want or need. But lately, slowly, my hatred is dissipating. Displaced by the grudging realization that advertising, in its increasing sophistication, does more good than evil.
Perhaps it’s Stockholm syndrome. My advertising captors have had me so long I’ve begun to love them. But I don’t think so. As far as I can see, there are at least three good reasons to embrace advertising. At least internet advertising anyway.
- It’s getting good enough to suggest things I might actually want. Example: I was recently on my myspace profile when I noticed a google Adsense ad for Bill Hicks ringtones. For those of you not in the know, Bill Hicks was a hugely influential, underground comedian from the late eighties/early nineties, who happens to be one of my favorite comedians. I wouldn’t be so impressed if I’d listed Bill Hicks on my profile, but I hadn’t. Google, with access to my myspace info (and god knows what else), was able to divine that I might like Bill Hicks. Not bad.
- It’s funded a boom of really great internet sites and services that wouldn’t exist without advertising. BrooWaha, for instance, will display this article next to a google ad to help pay for bandwidth, and possibly turn a modest profit (the writers do work cheap :)
- It gives you a voice. Just by browsing your favorite sites you’re usually generating revenue for their creators via ad impressions. Start clicking on the occasional ad (whether you intend to buy anything or not ;), and you generate even more. Occasionally you can even bash a little evil in the process. See that google ad for an evil corporation? Click on it and transfer up to a dollar to Google, who, for a ginormous corporation is surprisingly not that evil.
Whether we like it or not, advertising is the future. They’re going to get to us one way or another. We can embrace it and let them reach us on our terms. Or we can ignore it, and force the advertisers into ever more insidious forms of mind rape. I, for one, vote for less rape.