Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Compact Between Advertisers, Publishers and Consumers

This recent Advertising Age column offers an insightful look at the implicit agreement between consumers (readers/users) and advertisers, by way of publishers – that is, who gives what in order to get what. It spells out in concise and simple terms how that has historically worked, how it is now breaking down, and the ramifications of its disintegration.

One of the problems evident here is the disconnect between the thinking and actions of consumers en masse vs. those of the individual consumer. For example, we might all agree in theory that in order to continue to have access to good content (for free or even at low cost) we as a class of consumers must be willing to put up with advertising messages in some way shape or form. Yet that understanding does not make any one of us more willing to sit through commercials (print, web or TV). It’s TiVo time all the time, isn’t it?

I don’t claim to have a solution for this, though the author of this column presents a reasonable and seemingly easily implementable one. I do wonder if we’ll have to suffer the loss of access to good content before we’re willing to compromise and either put our money down and pay for things we value or else not only put up with ads, but give up the info that would allow for more effective targeting of those ads – which would make them more palatable but also raise privacy issues. (It’s another whole debate, but I think our privacy went down the drain a long time ago – and most of us can’t even fathom all the ways.)

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