Advertising

Without even trying, consciously, I have eliminated advertising from most of my daily life. The apps I use, the television that I watch, the methods by which I read articles on the Internet all tend to avoid ads. Advertising is increasingly invasive, and it has a tendency to encroach more and more on our personal time and in our personal space both real and virtual. I understand the reason for, and need in many cases, for advertising — it has absolutely enabled some people to access content and software that might have otherwise been unavailable to them. I have the privilege to make the choice to avoid it based on my preference, but even in recognising that I see advertising as a growing problem.

I've visited some websites recently that presented more than 50% of their initial page as advertising. One article I had intended to read showed only the headline and header photo of the relevant content, the rest of my iPad screen was just ads. Suffice to say that browser tab was rapidly terminated. Mobile apps can be similarly cursed, with banner ads attempting to grab your attention over whatever content or activity the app is intended to facilitate. On mobile screens the invasion can be more egregious, as screen space is so limited. Developers recognise this issue, too, as commonly an in-app purchase will be available to remove the ads and make the app experience less dismal.

I prefer to to pay up front, and never deal with ads in my content or applications at all. I have a Netflix subscription and make use of the BBC iPlayer, or buy digital versions of movies or TV shows when I can, none of which insert commercials. The way I see it is that if I wouldn't let someone into my bedroom to paint advertising slogans on my ceiling, why should I give them a free pass just because they are on my iPad? Why should I invite them onto my computer?

Advertising is not the only way to make money on the Internet, but it is the one that allows a marketeer to use That Word: free. Part of me hopes that the advertising business model is one on the decline, and that we'll find better ways to support people making great stuff.