If you have ever done anything online you probably are increasingly annoyed by the barrage of commercials. Whether it’s the forced commercials before the videos on Youtube or some other site or the annoying embedded ads that took the place of popups, I can say that we have had enough. The thing about advertising in general is that I don’t see how the majority of ads are even remotely effective. I personally close my eyes, plug my ears and sing when the stupid “your video will start in 30 seconds” commercials come on. If the rest of the human population is anything like me then commercials rarely get watched. Sure there are some clever commercials that I enjoy when I’m forced to watch them during live sporting events, but for the most part commercials are horrible and I’m positive I have never bought anything because a commercial told me to. Well, there was that one time I bought a new flavor of Hot Pockets but that was a rare exception and I was hungry that day.
Companies must waste billions of dollars on commercials and ads every year, but how much of that money spent is actually successfully spent on creating new customers? I’m especially dumbfounded by the money spent by the more established companies like McDonald’s, Coke or Pepsi. Who sees one of McDonald’s commercials and says “Wow, what is this burger joint with the double stacked burger and secret sauce? Maybe I’ll give that place a try!” We all know what McDonald’s is and depending on the person have been eating at or avoiding the restaurant for years. Same goes for Pepsi and Coke. It’s not like a loyal Coke drinker spits out his Cherry Coke and rushes to the store for a 2-Liter of Pepsi after he saw Beyonce on the latest Pepsi commercial. With the exception of new flavors or products, ads for these big companies amount to nothing but wasted money.
These days companies are starting to catch on and are trying to choose the targets of their ad money wisely. With the internet ads can be targeted to people based on their user data. This is why you see ads on Facebook and other places that are vaguely familiar. That’s why if you post stuff about your cat all day you will see ads for cat food or if you complain about how lonely you are you will see ads for sex lines and dating sites. Theoretically these ads are at least a little more effective than broadly targeted ads on television or radio. You can guess who is watching or listening by looking at the demographics of a given show, but we are finding out that the rating systems are not very accurate, especially in a time of delayed viewership with the popularity of DVRs and online streaming. So now we have companies trying to find out as much information about us as possible so they can target ads to our specific interests while we simultaneously try to avoid this invasion of privacy and any and all ads that come our way. This is how the battle will go for the next few years. Advertisers will try to find new and innovative ways to beam their company information into our brains and we will try to block them out or if possible avoid them all together. Sure we can add plugins to our internet browsers and fast forward through commercials, but advertisers will still find ways to get there information to the potential consumers. I personally will keep tuning them out because I’m never up for a good brain washing and enjoy the little free will I still have.