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Marketing IT Dept.

Banner Armaggeddon

I didn’t realize that banner ads were already dead.

I’d noticed a massive drop off in the past year, and was finally tipped off as to what was going on by Josh, a guy that I work with. He had installed a firefox plugin called AdBlock Plus.

It works insanely well. You can choose what you want to block, or better yet, add the subscription service that checks a database of known ad servers and the ads go away. I’ve only had it for a week and I can’t believe the stuff it cleans up.

I haven’t seen any dancing figures or a classmates ad since it’s been installed. Even cooler – since I’ve made the switch to GMail, all my email newsletters get the same treatment – banners wiped away.

It will be interesting to see the response to this…

4 replies on “Banner Armaggeddon”

I’m intrigued by the antipathy that folks seem to have toward advertising. Personally, though I rarely seek out advertising, I do find that it does help educate me to new products. Certainly web advertising suffers from a legacy of hideous, garish ads (remember when gray was the default background color for browsers and the blink tag was in vogue?). Even today, some web ads leave a bit to be desired.

But a few things to chew on in this vein:

* Almost all of us buy things based on advertising, and certainly we learn from it.
* Consumers as a whole continue to buy based on ads — that’s why the medium is still very much alive.
* People clearly buy from spammers. It’s hard to believe, but obviously it is true otherwise shady marketers would see no reason to engage in those practices.
* If efforts to block current ads are successful, it will simply lead to more invasive sponsorship approaches or content that is no longer free from subscription fees.

Chip’s last point is the most important in my opinion. A harmless banner isn’t offensive. Some rich media ones are, but the most offensive part of advertising are those that are most invasive.

Some great points Chip, after considering them for a while I do have some thoughts:

I think there’s been a major shift from “push” advertising to “pull”, although I pay no attention to banners, when I need to buy things I Google them and I’m willing to read everything from marketing copy to advertorial/questionable pedigree blogs to amazon reviews. Consumers as a whole are buying from ads, and the majority of them are still on (the declining) 30-second spot, but it’s starting to shift.

You and Jonathan are correct about the more invasive ads, but as this happens, eventually they begin to lower the value of the content. On the other hand, lately I’ve been thinking that it’s time for micropayments to return. It would be easy enough with paypal to subscribe to sites and podcasts for nominal amounts like $2 a year, and I would gladly do it for early access and ad free presentation of content I like.

I have always been intrigued by the concept of micropayments, going back to the days when I was CEO of Townhall.com during the boom years. I think the challenge is that to sustain micropayments, the quality of the content must be higher. Right now, there is a tremendous amount of content that probably isn’t worth paying for — indeed some of my own sites have such material from time to time I’m certain.

Over the past year, I have sensed an increasing “flight to quality” as they would say on Wall Street. I believe that there is an ongoing separation of high-volume content producers from high-quality content producers. It appears to be a slow process, but one that needs to take hold in order to build more sustainable online content business models for the long-term.

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