Advertising Is Content; Content Is Advertising

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

There's been a bunch of buzz this week over an Ad Age report suggesting that firms are finally realizing that no one pays attention to online banner ads. For all the hype about online advertising, this one point should have been obvious from quite early on. That doesn't mean that banner ads haven't been lucrative for some publishers who place them on their sites -- but it does call into question how long that sort of advertising will last. Sooner or later the advertisers will recognize that they're not getting much bang for the buck. For publishers (us included, mind you), that could mean that an easy vein for revenue goes away -- but the end result should be better. Companies will start to learn that there are better ways to achieve their goals than banner ads.

There are a few key points in the discussion that shouldn't be surprising to most folks around here, but apparently have just hit the consciousness of ad execs on Madison Avenue:
  1. The captive audience is dead. There is no captive audience online. Everyone surfing the web has billions of choices on what they can be viewing, and they don't want to be viewing intrusive and annoying ads. They'll either ignore them, block them or go elsewhere.
  2. Advertising is content. You can't think of ads as separate things any more. Without a captive audience, there's no such thing as "advertising" any more. It's just content. And it needs to be good/interesting/relevant content if you want to get anyone to pay attention to it.
  3. Content is advertising. Might sound like a repeat of the point above, and in some way it is -- but it's highlighting the flip side. Any content is advertising. It's advertising something. Techdirt content "advertises" our business even if you don't realize it. Every bit of content advertises something, whether on purpose or not.
  4. Content needs to be useful/engaging/interesting. This simply ties all of that together. If you want anyone to pay attention to your content (which is advertising something, whether on purpose or not) it needs to be compelling and engaging.
So, for the "brand" marketers out there who are starting to worry that banner ads aren't particularly effective, it's time to start rethinking how you build a brand along these points. Techdirt even has a way to help you put these ideas into practice. Give us a call -- we'll explain how it works in more detail. So, yes, even this is an "advertisement," but hopefully, it's also useful content.
Other posts in this series:



Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Mar 19th, 2008 @ 12:58pm

    Heh

    These are not the ads you are looking for *waves hand in a jedi sense*

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 1:53pm

    Its too bad nobody patented banner ads, then maybe we wouldn't have had to sit through so much 'shoot the monkey' crap.

    =)

     

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    zhenchyld, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 2:40pm

    I just started doing some freelance coding for a marketing startup run by a guy who totally has the whole content/advertising thing down

    www.justindowneymarketing.com

    I hate to 'advertise' in comments but the guys website totally exemplefies what the article was talking about. The site serves to prove to potential customers that he knows his ish using a 'market leader' play but also has a lot of great tips for small businesses.

     

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  4.  
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    TheDock22, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 3:29pm

    Banner ads need to go

    And for GAWD sake please quit making those Flash ads that pop-up right in the middle of the page, dance around, and force you to have to hit the X button (Which I do IMMEDIATELY because they are so annoying!)

     

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    zhenchyld, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 3:57pm

    Holy Jesus amen to that. That's after you waste three seconds chasing the close button while they scroll into your browser window from offscreen.

     

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    Mojo, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 4:04pm

    This is something I have been noticing lately, the rise of "advertorial" content in websites... AOL & Yahoo do this a lot, you'll see a "story" on the latest developments in anti-aging makeup, so you click on it and it turns out to be an elaborate ad for a specific brand... but less saavy users will actually think it's a legitimate article.

    Kind of like the "pull out advertising" sections we see in magazines, disguised as editorial stories... the problem is there is often no disclaimer on websites to tell you the content has been paid for by an advertiser. Are there rules and/or laws about this online?

    Admittedly, erasing the line between content and advertising is the only way advertising is going to survive; but the problem of knowing when you're reading truly unbiased content is going to become an issue.

     

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    Banners 123, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 4:10pm

    Nice Banner

    Thats a nice banner on the right of the page..

     

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  8.  
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    Banners 123, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 4:10pm

    Nice Banner

    Thats a nice banner on the right of the page..

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 19th, 2008 @ 4:13pm

    Re:

    Admittedly, erasing the line between content and advertising is the only way advertising is going to survive; but the problem of knowing when you're reading truly unbiased content is going to become an issue.

    It's not about erasing the line between advertising and content... it's about recognizing that there never was a line.

    Any advertising has always been content. It's just that it's been bad content.

    Any content has always been advertising -- it's just not always clear for what. In many cases, it's been weak "advertising" for an ad banner.

    I'm not talking about more "advertorial" content at all. I'm talking about recognizing the basic facts that any content is advertising and that advertising has always been content. So an advertorial is, by its very nature *bad* content. It's not content that people trust or want to read. For this to work, content needs to be *good* content.

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 19th, 2008 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Nice Banner

    Yes. As I said in the post, banner ads are still (for now) lucrative for publishers, and I made it clear we use them. That doesn't mean they're effective for advertisers.

     

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    Mojo, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 4:33pm

    Mike, that's bull, you can't say all content is advertising! There is and always will be some kind of line between content and advertising; if Paramout pays you to write a "story" about a new movie on DVD and you put the article up with a link to Amazon that is advertorial, plain and simple.

    Sure, in some esoteric way you can say a story about the latest find from the Hubble telescope is some form of advertising for NASA, but your article is not esoteric, it's about how advertisers are going to survive when no one pays attention to banner ads and other obvious forms of selling a product.

    Advertorials, where an ad is disguised as content, is the only way around this. How do you suggest "good" content that is advertising based? The bottom line will always be that said content is biased and "rigged" towards a point of view that benefits the advertiser and sells a product.

    Your blanket statement that all content is advertising and vice versa is cute and catchy but you need to back that up with something concrete.

    I find it disturbing that I thought I knew what you were talking about, a very real subject worth discussing (advertorials) but you actually had nothing in mind other than a vague statement!

     

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    tony, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 4:35pm

    Re:

    sorry zhenchyld, but justindowney does NOT exemplify what this article is talking about. The website itself is not engaging enough for someone who has iADD (like me) to stay and look at. I don't even want to think about what the ads they produce look like. Their site is a heap of black and blue text on a white background. I would rather read a manual written in Japanese on how to install plumbing.

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 19th, 2008 @ 4:56pm

    Re:

    Mike, that's bull, you can't say all content is advertising! There is and always will be some kind of line between content and advertising;

    No, it is true that all content is advertising for something. I disagree that there's a line between the two. Point me to any content and I'll tell you what it's advertising.

    if Paramout pays you to write a "story" about a new movie on DVD and you put the article up with a link to Amazon that is advertorial, plain and simple.

    Yes, that's an advertorial. I don't deny that. But my point is that's BAD content and therefore BAD advertising. I'm not saying advertorials make sense. This is not a defense of advertorials at all. It's the reverse. An advertorial is about tricking someone. That's not what I'm talking about at all.

    Sure, in some esoteric way you can say a story about the latest find from the Hubble telescope is some form of advertising for NASA, but your article is not esoteric, it's about how advertisers are going to survive when no one pays attention to banner ads and other obvious forms of selling a product.

    Yes. But advertisers don't have to do BAD content or TRICKY content or ADVERTORIALS to survive. They can make GOOD content that people WANT and that they SEEK OUT on purpose. That's what I'm talking about. It's about recognizing that they're media players in their own way.

    Advertorials, where an ad is disguised as content, is the only way around this.

    Why do you think advertorial are "the only way around this?"

    If the ad is "disguised" as content, then it's wrong. It will piss people off and do the exact opposite. I hope that's not the lesson you're reading out of what I wrote. I'm talking about creating REAL content that people WANT. Not hiding an advertisement in content.

    The bottom line will always be that said content is biased and "rigged" towards a point of view that benefits the advertiser and sells a product.

    Yes, if it's an advertorial. But that's not what I'm talking about.

    Your blanket statement that all content is advertising and vice versa is cute and catchy but you need to back that up with something concrete.

    Concrete? Point me to any content and I'll tell you what it's advertising.

    I find it disturbing that I thought I knew what you were talking about, a very real subject worth discussing (advertorials) but you actually had nothing in mind other than a vague statement!

    It's not vague at all. And I'm not talking about advertorials, which are exactly the wrong point. Advertorials are bad content. As you yourself point out, it's tricky content that is biased and not what people want. That's not good for anyone.

    I'm talking about creating real content that people want and that they seek out. Not content that tricks people.

     

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  14.  
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    Mojo, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 5:28pm

    For the love of Elvis, Mike, GIVE US AN EXAMPLE.

    Yes ok fine advertisers need to provide content that people want to read. Great idea. But if "good" content provided by an advertiser is NOT a clever diguise to sell a product then it's not an ad!!

    How can you say advertisers need to provide good, true, worthwhile content if they want to survive but that content cannot be an advertorial? If Coca-cola hires a journalist to write stories about endangered species and he is instructed in no way, shape or form to mention Coke or say anything that is geared towards making Coke look good, then yes, Coke has provided "good" content - but how is that still advertising?? It doesn't help them.

    I don't see how you can suggest that advertisers will survive by providing good content that is devoid of any attempt to sell their product.

    And yes I agree that all content is selling something, but only in a vague, esoteric way. A story about endagered species could be said to be selling tickets to the rainforest or panda bear dolls, but that would seriously be reaching.

    Please give us an example of "good" content from an advertiser that is not an advertorial but still helps them sell their product. I can't fathom it.

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 19th, 2008 @ 5:54pm

    Re:

    For the love of Elvis, Mike, GIVE US AN EXAMPLE.

    Um. ANY CONTENT advertises something. I said, point me to any content and I'll tell you what it advertises. EVERY PIECE OF CONTENT is an example.

    As I said in the post itself, every blog post here is an "advertisement" for Techdirt. Yet, do you think it's an advertorial?

    You need to stop thinking of advertising and content as being two separate things.

    But if "good" content provided by an advertiser is NOT a clever diguise to sell a product then it's not an ad!!

    Bingo! We have a winner. That's the ENTIRE POINT. You can't make ADS any more. They don't work. Advertising is a dying business. These days, you just need to make content.

    How can you say advertisers need to provide good, true, worthwhile content if they want to survive but that content cannot be an advertorial?

    You seem to be confused again. I didn't say that the content doesn't advertise. I just said that it's not an advertorial.

    Perhaps we should define more carefully since I get the feeling we're talking around each other:

    Advertorial is content that's DISGUISED as innocuous, but is really designed solely as an ad.

    Good content isn't DISGUISED as anything. It's good content that people want and find useful. In some cases it may be explicit about what it's advertising, in some cases it may not be. But it's designed first and foremost to be good content.

    If Coca-cola hires a journalist to write stories about endangered species and he is instructed in no way, shape or form to mention Coke or say anything that is geared towards making Coke look good, then yes, Coke has provided "good" content - but how is that still advertising?? It doesn't help them.

    Well, it depends on how you think about it. At Techdirt we rarely mention the business side of what we do, yet the content helps show off what we're able to do.

    Do you consider Eepy Bird's experiments as an advertorial for Coke?

    http://www.eepybird.com/dcm1.html

    I don't see how you can suggest that advertisers will survive by providing good content that is devoid of any attempt to sell their product.

    It's not devoid of any attempt to sell their product. You can sell your product in them, if the content is good and desired.

    BMW started making films -- good films, mind you -- that didn't make any attempt to sell BMWs. But they did have BMWs in them and people liked watching them. Those weren't "advertorials." That was making good content.

    And yes I agree that all content is selling something, but only in a vague, esoteric way. A story about endagered species could be said to be selling tickets to the rainforest or panda bear dolls, but that would seriously be reaching.

    I'm afraid that we're talking past each other. You seem to think of advertising and content as two totally separate things, so I can see why this is confusing.

    Give me any company. Any industry. And I'll try to come up with an example of the type of content they should be focusing on.

    If I sell car insurance, I'd create a USEFUL widget that gives drivers better traffic info and better routes that they can use to drive safer and shows them how they can save money on their car insurance based on how they drive.

    If I sell credit cards for small businesses, I'd create a forum for discussing small business topics, and how they can better achieve their goals as a small business.

    If I have a book store, I bring in writers for readings and hold events at my store.

    If I sell music players, I give away music to increase the demand for music players.

    If I'm an accountant, I start an online forum for accounting questions.

    Name some more... It's not hard.

     

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  16.  
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    Mojo, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 6:08pm

    Ok, i see what you're saying, but what you're talking about is still essentially an advertorial, just really shined up.

    BMW is making these films to sell BMWs. Of course they are. They bring attention to themselves with "oh look, BMW is contributing to the arts" and I am sure the films are wonderful, but they are still very eloborate commercials for BMWs.

    The site from an auto insurance company that shows current traffic conditions and helps you figure out lower rates based on your driving is STILL there for the sole purpose of having you decide to buy their insurance; the sole purpose of having bands and writers in your bookstore is to sell more books and coffee.

    I agree that it's great to have good content and advertising CO-EXIST in the same form, but let's not kid ourselves - content that is designed to promote good will towards a company or put you in a position to experience the company's product is still there to ultimately SELL THE PRODUCT.

    If the bands and book signings did not help the bookstore increase revenue, they would stop. And who could blame them?

    I agree that companies should stop just making blatant ads and try to provide useful content to go along with that ad, but we're still talking about a new age of advertorials.

    I know I might be sounding cynical, but it's just reality - these companies exist to sell you a product, we're just talking about shifting over to a soft-sell, almost subliminal model as opposed to screaming in your face.

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 19th, 2008 @ 6:42pm

    Re:

    Ok, i see what you're saying, but what you're talking about is still essentially an advertorial, just really shined up.

    As I said, I think we just disagree on the definition of an advertorial.

    BMW is making these films to sell BMWs. Of course they are. They bring attention to themselves with "oh look, BMW is contributing to the arts" and I am sure the films are wonderful, but they are still very eloborate commercials for BMWs.

    What if (and, yes, this is an "if") one of those films eventually wins an Oscar? What if any company made a film that was so good that it was considered the best in the field... even if it also helped sell a product.

    Is that a problem?

    I agree that it's great to have good content and advertising CO-EXIST in the same form, but let's not kid ourselves - content that is designed to promote good will towards a company or put you in a position to experience the company's product is still there to ultimately SELL THE PRODUCT.

    What's wrong with selling a product?

    I know I might be sounding cynical, but it's just reality - these companies exist to sell you a product, we're just talking about shifting over to a soft-sell, almost subliminal model as opposed to screaming in your face.

    But I'm not saying it's subliminal. BMWfilms is quite blatant. It's made by BMW. Obviously they want to sell cars. But they're not tricking you into watching the film. They're not intruding on you. They're making good content that ALSO happens to sell cars.

    So, no, it's not subliminal. It's quite blatant. But it's not about deceptive practices. In fact, it's about being a lot more open about it. We're quite open about what we do at Techdirt. Do you feel like we're tricking you? You read our content because you value it (I hope!). Do you think we tricked you because we also make money?

     

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  18.  
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    Rose M. Welch, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 7:15pm

    What about...

    ...search engine advertising? I shop on-line quite a bit. When I don't shop on-line, I find information, stores, and service providers online. I don't have a land land so I don't get a phone book so if you don't have an Internet presence, I don't generally shop with you. If I have to wade through more than two or three pages, I'm not going to find you.

    Furthermore, most of these companies know nothing about Internet advertising. I own a web design company aimed at created and hosting sites for small to medium local businesses and most of these people are experts in thier field - but clueless in mine. So they end up paying me lots extra to handle thier online advertising. Do I advise them to put up annoying as hell banners? Nope, tht's right up there with websites that have sound effects and no off button. (Or sound effects at all for that matter.)

    Advertising on the Internet is absolutely crucial. The big boys are just going entirely the wrong way about it...

     

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  19.  
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    BRADLEY STEWART, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 8:00pm

    ADVERTISING IS DRIVING ME CLINICALY INSANE

    I PREFORMED A HARDLY SCIENTIFIC EXPERIMENT. I WOUND UP A CHESS CLOCK. I HIT THE BUTTON ON THE LEFT SIDE WHILE A PROGRAM WAS ON TELEVISION. WHEN A COMMERCIAL, BUMPER OR PROMO CAME ON I HIT THE RIGHT SIDE. I DID THIS WITH TALK RADIO AS WELL. I PREFORMED THIS EXPERIMENT MANY TIMES WITH DIFFERENT PROGRAMS. I FOUND THAT 23 TO 24 MIN. PER HOUR WAS DEVOTED IN EACH PROGRAM TO COMMERCIALS, BUMPERS, AND PROMOS. IF YOU ADD AN ADDITIONAL 5 MIN OF STALE NEWS ALMOST 1 OF EVERY 2 MIN WAS FILLED WITH THE JUNK. IT REMINDS ME OF THE OLD JOKE IF YOU TAKE A BANNANA AND PEEL IT AND THEN THROW AWAY THE BONE WHAT HAVE YOU GOT LEFT. IM A STRONG BELIEVER IN FREE SPEECH. I UNDERSTAND THE REASONS FOR ADVERTISING. THIS ISNT FREE SPEECH. THIS IS TORTURE.

     

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  20.  
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    Iron Chef, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 8:36pm

    Re: Banner ads need to go

    I agree, TheDock22... What else is disturbing is the 3 meg flash video ads that auto-load.

    I have to wonder how much bandwidth these ads use, and if it's contributing to net neutrality efforts.

     

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  21.  
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    John Furrier, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 10:04pm

    content is the ad

    dude: I love the subline "it took em long dept"

    sure right on that Mike.

    I've been pounding this for over a year. Bout time they realized it. I know you guys do.

    Not many people do but it's good that they are. It just might be too late agencies are dying.

    http://furrier.org/2008/01/23/again-video-ad-model-its-microcontent-not-pre-rolls/

    Trad itional agencies are dying..

    http://furrier.org/2008/03/18/are-ad-agencies-dying/

     

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    Eric, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 10:24pm

    Too Idealistic

    Before I explain, take a quick look at these examples of "content is advertising" and notice what they all have in common:

    If I sell car insurance, I'd create a USEFUL widget that gives drivers better traffic info and better routes that they can use to drive safer and shows them how they can save money on their car insurance based on how they drive.

    If I sell credit cards for small businesses, I'd create a forum for discussing small business topics, and how they can better achieve their goals as a small business.

    If I sell music players, I give away music to increase the demand for music players.

    If I'm an accountant, I start an online forum for accounting questions.


    First, I don't think any of these are BAD ideas. They are good ideas. But here' s what they have in common - they all require a new investment in technology and/or know-how and/or personnel to pull it off.

    Another example given was BMW's new vestment into the movie biz. And with that case, I don't think BMW engineers all went to acting classes and film production schools. No. These are not the kind of skills which BMW's advertising personel could have "acquired". On the contrary, they probably made a sizable investment in an already existing movie firm. So again, we have a new investment.

    So taking it to it's logical conclusion, can one imagine every car company investing in the movie business to meld their advertising with content? Or what about all the other products in the world? Are all the kitchen appliance companies, furniture companies, toilet paper companies, (you could take this out to infinity) all going to push their products into movies now?

    And on yet another point, there's no way BMW is going to drop all their standard advertising such as magazines, tv, radio, etc., and put all bets on their movies. Their movie venture, for them, simply amounts to a complementary business which contributes to the effectiveness of their automobile advertising efforts.

    In the widget example:

    If I sell car insurance, I'd create a USEFUL widget that gives drivers better traffic info and better routes that they can use to drive safer and shows them how they can save money on their car insurance based on how they drive.


    Does anybody really think that every insurance company is going to develop such a widget (or something competitive)? And even if they did, or even if they all purchased the widget from a 3rd party, what you end up with is - once again, just as with current display ads - a level playing field. And to the target audience, 100 different insurance-sponsored widgets will probably appear just as annoying as 100 different insurance display ads.

    So I believe it's never going to be a 100% "all content is advertising" and/or "all advertising is content". There will be some cases that come close to being one-and-the-same, but there is not enough room or resources or time for every company in the world who wants to sell a product, to try to migrate to - or even complement their current advertising with - that "ideal". I agree with what I think you are partly claiming - that advertising CAN be more effective if it melds itself with content - but I don't believe ALL advertising WILL get there, CAN get there or necessarily SHOULD get there.

    A movie comes to mind that illustrates my last point above (that not all content/advertising SHOULD be melded). In the movie "Demolition Man" (1993), the people of the future listened to and sang along to the commercial jingles played through their car radios. Not so strange, right? But the scary part was that the commercial jingles WERE the program content! ALL of the songs (content) played on the stations were also commercials - one and the same. Needless to say, it was a very bleak vision of the possible future of advertising and content.

     

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    Rose M. Welch, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 11:19pm

    It's not the future...

     

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    gregory, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 11:20pm

    opinion, of course, but...

    i think advertising as a revenue model for online content will die very soon...

    more walls than ads

     

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    Rose M. Welch, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 11:20pm

    It's not the future...

    ...it's now. there are websites hwere you can view commercials - not hilarious user generated video or funny clips from good shows, but figgin' commercials. And people visit this site to see clever and humorous commercials.

    Muahahahahahaha! Welcome to... The Twilight Zone.

     

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    Hillel, Mar 19th, 2008 @ 11:41pm

    ads = content? no... ads=software (with content mi

    I'm essentially 100% in agreement with this post and especially the adage article that sparked it.

    Fifteen months ago we started a new startup focused on creating branded online destinations that actually have value - Jackson Fish Market.

    The only issue I take with this post (and the original adage article) is the focus on content as the new ad. I believe the new ad is primarily software (with content mixed in periodically). I don't say this to make a geeky semantic distinction. I genuinely think it's important.

    The internet as a medium is fundamentally about interactivity. Yes, UGC is key, but that's not what I'm talking about. Interactivity is about having software (literally code) that solves problems for users. Meeting their needs can be in the form of making them more productive, more informed, more communicative, or more entertained. But software as a medium has power in this regard like no medium before it. And while there's tons of content on the web, it's software that fundamentally makes it come to life.

    Baby Center (an example cited in the adage article) is essentially a big magazine (with tons of user contributors) with very little unique software that makes it engaging. Nike's offerings have a much stronger emphasis on software.

    When marketers start to fully understand this final wrinkle in this evolution of internet advertising, they will get even more excited when they realize that content (even on the internet where sometimes users make it) is expensive to produce. And software is relatively cheap.

    Our response to the AdAge article is at: - http://www.jacksonfish.com/blog/2008/03/18/note-the-date-and-time-the-ad-industry-has-finally-starte d-to-get-it/

     

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    José Luis, Mar 20th, 2008 @ 12:43am

    Re: Re:

    I think a good example of content advertisement is the way presidential candidates can be evaluated based on their speeches.

    I'm not talking about the specific policies, but the way they address problems, the way they talk to people, etc. Think about the differences between old/new school.

    That (i think) is a very good example of content and advertisement (sadly frequently disguised). They all want to rule the world (as companies want to make money, etc).

     

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    Twinrova, Mar 20th, 2008 @ 4:38am

    Ha ha! Good one, Mike!

    I see the point you've been trying to make and this thread did a good job of explaining it.

    But do you really think advertisers will understand this? No, they won't. Their job is to throw things in your face to interrupt what you're doing, just what this thread did.

    You interrupted my reading by placing an ad in it. Cleverly done, but also deceiving, which is exactly what advertising does.

    IT SHOVES SOMETHING DOWN A CONSUMERS THROAT REGARDLESS IF THEY WANT TO SEE IT OR NOT!

    This does not make an ad content.

    Moreso, you must think about this line of thinking because I can promise you that people will become pissed that their "content" is really nothing more than an ad.

    Try it out. Make an entire month's worth of "content" which are nothing but ads. See how well people respect the site after that.

    And if advertisers think this deception will work, they'll use it to their fullest advantage so that the next time you watch the SuperBowl, you're actually watching a 3 hour ad show interrupted by a stupid football game.

    Personally, I believe it's time that regulation be placed to limit the number of ads placed in any medium because it's getting so damn annoying, true content is turning into a thing of the past.

     

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  29.  
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    Peter Blaise (profile), Mar 20th, 2008 @ 4:52am

    eepybird.com dancing baloney lost me

    At http://www.eepybird.com/dcm1.html I get 2 red [x]s and now I'm glad my browser is "broken" and no longer shows me dancing baloney. I see in the source code for the page that it says "You may need to upgrade your Flash Player or click the security box at the top of the page to activate this content." I have neither a Flash player nor a security box - hahahah. Maybe I'll keep my browser this way just to make web browsing sooo much easier and noise free! I do use filters from Smith Micro Check It 86, interMute Ad Subtract Pro, and the Google Toolbar Popup Blocker (all three together) on ancient IE 6.0(!), so my web browsing is now pretty much dancing baloney free! I guess I'm a preternaturally proto-original purist when it comes to the philosophy of "content is everything", to paraphrase your headline, since advertising is non-existent for me, unless it's content. Tah-dah - I have the perfect (broken) browser that fulfils your observation regardless of the advertiser's intent - all I have is content! ;-)

    Also, I don't need Coke as a refreshing drink nor as an entertaining explosive. I guess your "good/bad" is in the eye of the beholder, as always, but I have no reason to ever return to eepybird.com - they lost me at "hello".

    Finally, thanks, tony, for the term "iADD" - new to me. But, I do have it, and I have it honed to a fine weapon. Years ago, I used to count to 10 before nixing a bADD web page, and now I hardly get to 3 before moving on. As Carl Sagan said, there's "billions and billions of start stuff" out there, so I figure, why not immediately move on to continue the search for someone who is ready for prime time, instead of waiting for someone to s-l-o-w-l-y slice the dancing baloney?

    My dancing baloney has a first name,
    it's C L O S E
    My dancing baloney has a last name,
    it's W I N D O W ...

    Click!
    Love and hugs,
    Peter Blaise

     

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  30.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Mar 20th, 2008 @ 5:17am

    Marketing is a Drug Addiction

    Good analysis.

    My residual concern is that we do not live in a rationale world. When people become desensitized to advertising, the Pavlovian response of the marketing department is to advertise more, not to rethink how to re-capture the reader.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2008 @ 6:36am

    Re: Ha ha! Good one, Mike!

    If you listen to what he's saying, ALL the content on Techdirt from the last week, the last month, and the last year was an ad. How well do you currently respect the site?

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 20th, 2008 @ 6:38am

    Re: Marketing is a Drug Addiction

    If ads don't work, they don't generate money. If you put more money into something that's not making money, you will lose money. If you lose enough money, you will go out of business. Therefore, if ads don't work then all companies will either ditch traditional advertising, or go out of business.

     

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  33.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 20th, 2008 @ 9:24am

    Re: Ha ha! Good one, Mike!

    But do you really think advertisers will understand this? No, they won't. Their job is to throw things in your face to interrupt what you're doing, just what this thread did.

    If they do that, it will not work very long and they will go out of business. It's that simple.


    Try it out. Make an entire month's worth of "content" which are nothing but ads. See how well people respect the site after that.


    I've done 10 years of posts that are nothing but ads.

    Again you seem to miss the point. I'm saying EVERY bit of content is an advertisement already. Already. Every blog post you read here is an advertisement. It's content, yes, but it's also an ad.

    You seem to incorrectly think I'm saying that every bit of content should "include" some promotional statement. That's not what I'm saying.

    And if advertisers think this deception will work, they'll use it to their fullest advantage so that the next time you watch the SuperBowl, you're actually watching a 3 hour ad show interrupted by a stupid football game.

    You say you understand the point I'm making, but then you claim that this is about deception. It's not. I'm talking about the opposite of deception. If you use deceptive practices it will not work.

    You read Techdirt, and clearly, it's because you think you get something out of the content. It's not because we're being deceptive. It's because you get value out of that content -- and we get value out of it as well, because you continue to associate Techdirt with the type of analysis we're able to provide.

    That's not deception.


    Personally, I believe it's time that regulation be placed to limit the number of ads placed in any medium because it's getting so damn annoying, true content is turning into a thing of the past.


    Again, you have totally missed the point. EVERY bit of content is advertising. You cannot "limit" the number of ads. That is impossible. You are still thinking of content and ads as being two separate things. As for "true content" again you are confused. What I'm talking about is having more USEFUL content that IS NOT deceptive or annoying.

    Deceptive content. Content that is annoying DOES NOT WORK. That's the point.

    Please read what I wrote again.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Rich Pearson, Mar 20th, 2008 @ 2:25pm

    Advertising is= Content. Content delivers Links

    Spot on analysis - the bigger question is when will publishers wake up and realize that their treasure trove is their archived content. The New York Times, Conde Net and Sports Illustrated certainly get it. Some other thoughts on why publishers should do this here: http://attributor.com/blog/?p=35

     

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  35.  
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    Twinrova, Mar 21st, 2008 @ 4:57am

    Re: Re: Ha ha! Good one, Mike!

    I wanted to get some sleep before I replied to this because I believe you and are are saying the same thing, but have different definitions of the word advertisement.

    Given the TechDirt site was used as a huge "advertisement", I'm going to have to agree to some parts.

    The headlines (content identifiers of Techdirt) are ads, but I have to disagree that the content is an ad.

    To drive home this point, please read the content of the page. Notice those heavy bolded blue links? Those are ads.

    Like all ads, they're shoved in our face regardless of how tactfully they're done.

    Let's look at it from a different perspective. We'll use a television show as an example.

    You're watching The Big Bang Theory for 15 minutes. Then, a commercial (content!) for Mt. Dew. Then the remainder 15 minutes.

    Question: Where's the ad in this scenario?

    If you said the Mt. Dew commercial, you'd be wrong. The commercial itself is content. So where's the ad?

    The next time you're watching television, notice the fade out between the two content transitions. That is the ad.

    So, we can clearly define an ad as this:
    A notification that content is about to change, regardless if it's related to the current content or not.

    Now re-visit the content on this page and look at the heavy bolded links.

    I try not to be verbose online given that most people don't really read. When I said that Techdirt should fill its pages with ads, I can see how I mispoke. But I won't need to give examples because Mike clearly agrees that deceptive ads won't work.

    The problem I have with these "Ads are content" blogs is that ads are not content. They can't be strictly due to the very definition of what they are.

    Let's review the blog statement that ads are content, because it seems that I'm not understanding per the reply Mike left.

    Two examples:
    I'm watching a show and get the fade to commercial. I can clearly see where the two contents change. While many would say the commercial is the ad, I get Mike's stance that it really is content. The ad, however, isn't the commercial.

    Now let's say I'm watching a show and this time, product placement is used. The plot of the show does a fantastic job of including the product. From a content "readers" perspective, they'll recognize the product but won't feel it as intrusive.

    So, was this show an ad or content? Content, of course. We, as consumers, can easily recognize name brand products, which may be a more effective way of pushing the product onto consumers rather than intruding on their content.

    And this brings me to the reason why I'm debating Mike on the whole "Ads are content" statements. The two can not be combined as one.

    Here's why. If you've been watching any television lately, you'll notice the new "pop up" ads which display the content of either the show you're watching or one that's coming up. TNT (et al), Discovery (et al), and many other stations are now utilizing these ads.

    Mike, this is where I stand that ads cannot be treated as content because in the example above, the ad itself isn't part of the original content but instead is forced OVER the original content.

    It's no different than those Flash ads you seen on websites now (and increasing daily). And it was my stance that this be done by Techdirt to show how pissed off people get about ads being thrown in their face ineffectively. If Techdirt hired Flash programmers to pop up ads every 15 seconds, the respectability of this site WOULD drop.

    Because the ad is annoying despite any content the ad would display. Hell, even if the content points to slashdot.org, it would irate readers because of the way it was delivered.

    Maybe I'm getting too literal over the "definitions", but I would like to think that by now, my point's been made about the differences and that I truly do understand the point of the blog.

    Where I fail to understand is how you're trying to tell us that it's possible to effectively merge two contents into one seamlessly. The product placement example can be done, but it would instantly fail if additional products are brought in and consumers get the notion they're watching an "ad" and not necessarily the content they thought they were watching.

    So you may be asking why I'm so dedicated to making sure you understand the difference. I've described the television (given the station is offering free content, the ads are something I just need to tolerate no matter how intrusive they are.) aspect, but now we'll go into a new one: Video games.

    Eidos, a very prominent game publisher, announced last year they were going to start including "ads" in their video games. Of course, this outraged many consumers but Eidos fired back to say the ads "wouldn't be intrusive".

    But this is my beef (pay attention Mike): Eidos is going to capitalize on the revenue from the company's "ad" but offers nothing back to the consumer for it. The game isn't free to consumers. There's no "free but at a cost" in this example. Now, consumers are forced to deal with the "ads" in a game they've just spent $60 for. While Eidos says the ads won't be intrusive, it still doesn't excuse the fact they're screwing over the consumers.

    By understanding the blog's initial point, the two contents are effectively merged but done so at the cost of the consumer, while BOTH content manufacturers rake in the profits. Not a good thing and prone to failure when "everyone" starts doing it.

    In sports games, it's quite common to see real life ads in banners displayed around the arena, just as you would in real life. Many gamers don't seem to care if it's in a sports game but definitely would argue to see them in "real life", especially if the game tries its best to focus on the ad (such as a video zooming in on a billboard for Mt. Dew).

    As a consumer, I can not accept these infiltrations of my content without some benefit to me. It's no different than those DVD manufacturers who place preview videos before the true content that we can't skip over!

    If I still missed something, please enlighten me. I can see why the banner ad is no longer effective but I can't see any way of introducing its content in a non-evasive way which wouldn't change the scope of the original content. Examples would be effective here.

    Oh, and one more thing before I go. I'm sure many of our readers here remember what the web was like just a few short years ago. Remember the cost of trying to host your own website? Ah, the "good ol' days". Luckily, the costs have dropped significantly but have you noticed that sites no longer offer their "Premium Membership" accounts anymore?

    You know, the offer, that once paid, all ads would disappear from the site. Back in those days, ads were consistently used to help offset the cost of hosting the site, especially when bandwidth wasn't "unlimited". Banner ads were the most effective way of making it stand out against the more-often-than-not bland website.

    But times change and "banner ads" are no longer effective because many websites now understand it's more important to display their logo and navigation than it is to sell something, especially since there's no heavy cost burden of hosting the site.

    In this world of "web 2.0", the only reason ads still remain while costs are low is because people tolerate (expect) them.

    In truth, it's the business model of the media world (web, tv, radio) that needs to change. As ads continue to grow, consumers are definitely starting to take notice of the amount of ads (commercial break lengths).

    Soon, a 1 hour program will have 30 minutes of commercial interruption. Is the answer product placement? Doubtful*.
    Commercial-free TV? Hmmm... but how does one generate revenue then? I believe this is what needs to be answered.


    Sorry for the very long post, but I just had to get this off my chest. :)

    *Two weeks ago, Smallville used Stride gum as a product placement for nearly the entire show. Maybe it was an attempt to try something different, but I can definitely state one thing: If Smallville takes this path for future episodes, I'm done watching.

    And I'm sure I won't be the only one.

     

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  36.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 21st, 2008 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Ha ha! Good one, Mike!

    I'm afraid we are talking past each other. We do not agree, and I'm afraid I have been unable to clearly explain my position. You think that ads and content are separate, but you are wrong.

    Every bit of content on Techdirt, despite what you say, is an ad. It's an ad for Techdirt. My posts are an ad for me. That is the point.

    To claim otherwise is incorrect.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Davkaus, Mar 25th, 2008 @ 12:03pm

    "Admittedly, erasing the line between content and advertising is the only way advertising is going to survive; but the problem of knowing when you're reading truly unbiased content is going to become an issue."

    Become an issue? You'd have to be fairly foolish to believe that any content is truly unbiased.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Will, Apr 1st, 2008 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Twinrova

    Twinrova thanks for expanding what you were talking about. Despite Mike's statement that you disagree, I think that you are actually quite close to the same conclusion.

    You point out that adding content in a "product placement" type of way can be annoying, and Mike agrees, that makes it bad content and as you said, you'll stop watching. Same with the unskipable dvd previews, the video game, and the 30 minute commercials on TV. whether or not they pass the savings on to you with cheaper games, dvd's, or however doesn't change the fact that if you get pissed off, they made bad content. Bad content looses viewers in an "attention economy" and won't thrive as you pointed out.

    I think the thing you missed (and maybe disagree about) is that Mike thinks (and I am beginning to agree) that there is an unlimited number of ways to get your "ads" watched with actual useful content in the way that techdirt does (with blog analysis "advertising" their knowledge and driving customers and courting potential talent), or the Dove "real beauty" campaign, or the aforementioned BMW videos.

    All of these examples are not forcing people to watch (like putting those awful flash adds up) but actually encouraging people find your content because it adds value to their lives. Ever heard of Terry Tate Office Linebacker? I actually visited the Reebok site to watch some of those, and I visit and respect Techdirt enough that I might use their services if I ever needed them, and I had friends show me the "real beauty" video online.

    Of course bad content will fail, but where you and Mike are talking through each other is simply that he is assuming (correctly or not)that there are enough ways to create meaningful value and get an "advertisers" word out in a way that is not intrusive, but the opposite, wanted! This looks nothing like what marketers think of, but works just as well (or better), and means that eventually, ANY in your face advertising (Eidos included)is going to disadvantage itself against other content which could/would be created by others which is ACTUALLY valuable rather than pretending to be (like the stride gum which added nothing valuable to the story line and obviously detracted from it)

    I could be wrong about this, but I think that Mike is looking ahead beyond the immediate future when shows/movies/games can trade a little bit of their credibility or worthiness by annoying in-your face placements. Eventually, however, those efforts will be drowned out because people won't watch the shows (as you threatened) because there are plenty of things more valuable to watch (and if you do watch them, it's because it actually give you more value than alternatives even with the IYF ads)

    Come to think of it, it's not that far away! You pointed out you wouldn't accept it on your shows, and I don't know about you, but I remember the web addresses that use the most annoying flash adds and avoid them next time I'm clicking. If you don't by Eidos's games because with adds it's not worth $60 anymore, they go out of business, the flash adds sites lose readership, and shows loose ratings and go off the air.

    Contrast this with the examples I gave, or with apple's adds which people actually look up and view online because they think they are funny, or silly, or whatever, but they watch them despite being REALLY blatant. It is in these ways that Mike is saying that advertising is content, and viewed that way it really does seem to be an infinite number of ways to "advertise" non-forcefully (as infinite as content is anyway!).

    If there are an infinite number of ways to do it, then you won't have the problem of all marketers trying to make BMW style movies, or tv shows being nothing but product placement, or the internet being so full of banners that you can't see the article. Anytime marketers push it to far and make the content less useful than alternatives, say by interfering with the objectivity of game reviews, or too many product placements, or to many commercials, or anything else that is not actually useful and wanted by consumers, then viewers will not choose to watch, and thus the ads won't work.

    Advertisement and consumers need not be mutually opposed, despite what current marketers think.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    manish sharma, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 10:52pm

    plz send me the banner of advertsing companies

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    manish sharma, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 10:55pm

    plz send me the banner of advertsing companies

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    icon, May 16th, 2010 @ 9:09am

    Nothing new here

    actually most advertisers (the ones practicing internet advertising for longer than a year) know that not many people pay attention to banners - still, i dont think this kind of advertisement will ever go away just as signs in the side of the road are still there - they simply improved in the shape of digital signs etc...

    In my eyes, Banners will become much more interactive incorporating videos and other types of media which will allow the user to get mosre information without clicking.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Kent, May 24th, 2011 @ 11:41pm

    Absolutely correct!

    Humans search for information before they buy, this is human nature. If we have great content let them search, we have higher chances to make sales.

    Since Google rolled out Panda algorithm, content even getting more important.

     

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  43.  
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    frederickolson (profile), Mar 27th, 2012 @ 3:32am

    advertising

    The principal PURPOSE of all of them?--To ADVERTISE & PROMOTE the business & goods & PROPAGANDISE the public & to SELL'M a MESSAGE & a bill of goods, to INFLUENCE their thinking, INSPIRE them to make a decision & get them to COMMIT themselves to buy the product.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Nikhil Khandekar, Jul 4th, 2012 @ 3:21am

    Advertising

    I beg to differ on your equation of advertising with content. The precondition that requires content to be relevant, original, fresh, interesting, and so on is the game changer. Advertisements, traditionally, haven't measured up to that challenges by the minutest fraction.

    Sure, content does advertise. But any content of any value also does much more. Much, much more than an advertisement can ever aspire to. It informs, educates, shapes opinion, entertains, awakens the faculties, and is BENEFICIAL TO A READER/VIEWER IN AND BY ITSELF and in ways far better.

    A banner or billboard that advertises, say, Apple's laptops doesn't quite measure up to the info, specs, and presentation of those laptops on Apple's site, relevant manuals, or even online reviews. Ads and content only share the function of promotion. That does NOT make them the same thing.

    That's what's different about content, in fact. It's just way better than advertisement. No need to confuse readers by putting the two on the same pedestal. They are totally, irrevocably, and decidedly different. Period.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    AddOptions, Nov 27th, 2012 @ 12:30pm

    There isn't much new on the internet

    The fundamental error all web based elements is that the internet is just a virtual representation of what is in the real world. An mp3 is just a record/tape. An avi is just a DVD. And a banner ad is just a billboard.

    If they didn't serve some basic purpose, they wouldn't exist. At their most basic level, they are the start of all marketing buzz. They inform people who are otherwise unaware of your product or service. Sure you can target customers, but if they aren't even aware of your existence then they aren't going to even notice your focus on them.

    Advertising is marketing, but marketing is not advertising. The internet may be a level playing field, but if you don't understand the game in the first place then you are hopelessly outmatched. This counts for those who are on the internet and don't understand marketing and those who understand marketing and don't understand the internet. Tactics aren't strategies and strategies aren't tactics.

     

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  46.  
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    Strazzeri Mancini (profile), May 13th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

    Marketing is Content and Content is Marketing

    Great 4 points!

    As an Education Marketing enthusiast, I personally view Advertising as Marketing...as Yes, I know, there is a different between the two technically...however, the basic premise of promoting a message remains the same.

    I appreciate the "Captive Audience is dead" point you mentioned because we do live in a somewhat of an ADD type of society. Everything happens so fast in today's world that finding a captive audience is quite tough. Which is why at our firm, we focus on our Education Marketing as a vehicle to be creative, appealing, and relevant to a targeted group of people that are interested in what we have to say. Thanks
    - Rob

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 15th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Great post. Really explains it all.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Fred Milton Olsen, Oct 24th, 2013 @ 5:00pm

    Ads, content public media

    You think it's bad in commercial media? So-called "public" media has become little except an echo chamber for commercial media with most guests being from commercial media. "Public" media has also gone whole hog for advertising, promos and a commercial clock. Wisconsin "Public" radio is now over 1/3 advert/promo/commercial format fluffcrap in every hour. "Public" media is now a complete betrayal of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.

     

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  49.  
    icon
    RoKphish (profile), Feb 2nd, 2014 @ 9:21am

    What ads?

    When ads became the vehicle for "accidental" malware delivery, I immediately began blocking all ads, cookies, and trackers.
    Adblock Plus
    Ghostery
    CookieCuller
    BetterPrivacy

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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