Blocking Ads is Oppressing the Masses

As a friend of mine recently put it (to paraphrase him), “Advertising isn’t bad in theory, but it’s not about advertising any more. Now they know how to get in your head and make you want things.”

It’s freaky. Manipulative. Rather then provide (and advertise) what the market wants, why not create the market?

I’ve covered how and why I avoid advertising as much as possible already, here and here. Tonight, though, another thought occurred to me.

I resurrected my faithful old desktop from its file server role in the closet last week, and installed MythTV. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “DVR”, it’s an open-source version of TiVo.

But it does something that TiVo will not do. It can automatically find, flag, skip, and even totally remove commercials from your recorded programs.

The various recording and movie industry mouthpieces will tell you that skipping ads is stealing. Right. Skipping ads in any medium is not stealing. No, it’s something far worse.

It’s getting a free ride on the backs of the unwashed masses.

You see, for every person that watches a program or views a web site without viewing the accompanying ads, the value of the ad goes down just a little. One pair of eyeballs, in the parlance of the industry. Thus, if the cost of the ad stays the same, the price-per-eyeball goes up. Advertisers are going to want to make those ads worth the higher cost, so they will go to greater lengths to make the ads stickier. More ads will be inserted in the same time period to make sure the message is rammed home. More ads will surround and weave through web pages to make the remaining viewers shoulder the advertising load.

Who will be left with these ad-clogged shows and sites? People too dumb, too lazy, too poor, or simply too ambivalent to go through the hassle of installing AdBlock Plus or setting up a MythTV box. (The latter is no small feat — it’s perhaps better to just not watch TV, or wait for shows to come out on Netflix). Those not in control of televisions around them are also left behind. Ads are foisted on us in waiting rooms and airports, places where the only defense is to lower the brim of one’s hat and plug one’s ears with music and in-ear headphones. (The TV-B-Gone can only do so much.)

Advertisers and content providers aren’t clueless. Product placement and viral marketing remain current buzzwords. Advertising creeps in in other ways. However, keep in mind those left behind in the advertising gap, those on whom you foist the burden of watching ads and the subsequent impulsive buys.

Blocking ads is oppressing the masses.

Before you flame me, please note that this is a little tongue-in-cheek.