Want to know why Doubleclick is in so much trouble these days? Just take a look at what their executives are saying. Doubleclick's "Privacy Chief," appears to be channeling Jamie Kellner (the TV exec who announced that people who go to the bathroom during commercial breaks are "stealing TV") and has declared that products that block ads in browsers will kill off any free content online and it will all go fee-only. Of course, ad blockers have been around for a while, and there really hasn't been a problem. Instead, the problems online seem to come from companies like Doubleclick trying to push ever more intrusive ads on everyone. Among the other gems in his talk were that people get upset if they see a page without ads: "You'd go to your local corner shop and buy the daily paper, and you'd have these large holes where the ads were. You'd somehow feel like your 25 cents had not gotten full value." There are two responses to that point. First, if people really felt that way, then they wouldn't use ad blockers and you wouldn't be out whining about them. Second, the only way people would miss the ads was if the ads were actually useful -- which is the point he seems to be missing. Ads work when they're relevant, interesting or amusing in a way that people want to see them. While he goes on to say that any browser that implemented an automatic ad blocking tool "would be harming their own customer relationships to create a short-term, short-sighted, limited-effectiveness tool," he's actually got it backwards. It's the companies that push intrusive, annoying and irrelevant ads on people who don't want them that are harming their own customer relationships with short-term, short-sighted money grabbing techniques, destined to drive people away. Despite what some people in the advertising world seem to think, there's no contractual relationship forcing people to watch ads. The captive audience is dead -- and it's the advertisers and publishers who need to adjust to the changing market.
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