Is the end of advertising in sight on mobiles? Is it an answer to a prayer?
I ask, not just to stir up a bit of controversy, but because I may not be a lone voice protesting at being assaulted at every turn by companies trying to sell me something I don’t want or need.
I am one of those who resent being phoned up or having ads to get through before I can find what I want. I tell callers, when or if I want new roofing, I will look around and see what’s on offer when I want to. I do not want a price now.
I know people have to earn a living, though.
Go Away and Leave Me Alone
I am one of those who know we have to pay our taxes and declare all our earnings, accept the fight against crime and terrorism, but who instinctively dislike too much being known about me by anybody and what/where/how/when/why I want to watch, see, eat, do or go on holiday.
I am the advertisers’ nightmare statistic – I let people know on a need-to-know basis. That is, what I need them to know, not what they need to know.
I never put my real age in when ordering a present, for example. My age is not necessary for my purchase of the product, only for their advertising data base. I put in my date of birth as 01-01-1900, or similar.
If I’m ordering online, they don’t need my phone number. You can get online a useful list of fictitious phone numbers offered to script and book writers.
The Consumer Resistance to Ads
And on ads, especially ads supposedly aimed at me personally, I tend to be Mr Grumpy. It’s true that as electronic devices now make the world go round, then adverts are the fuel that drives almost everything.
Without adverts there is no Google or Facebook. No independent television, almost no nothing as ads pay the bills. We understand that.
The objections arise because people increasingly loathe being perpetually targeted by ads which are supposedly at or near their ‘favourite’ interests.
This targeting is only possible because they track, keep, interpret data about us from sites visited, queries to search, shopping done and any one of the myriad ways we show interest in something.
People are increasingly resenting that intrusive, over-powering technique.
Avoid Google by using DuckDuckGo.com.
Named after the children’s game, Duck Duck Goose, these search people promise no ads, because they don’t track your visits and keep no data about you.
So, all searchers get the same answers to the same question!!
Bliss, or very bliss?
The Market Thinks
The Stock Market is a useful measure of how the makers and shakers think a company is doing and is set to do tomorrow. Google shares have taken a bit of a tumble in New York, for example, and people are jumping up and down about it, as if it signals the end of the known world.
The fact is that driverless cars, wearable devices and a still very strong market share mean Google will be champion for a long time to come.
But the signs are there of consumer resistance.
People love the cleverness, usefulness and compatibilities of their small screens. They do not like them cluttered with ads. Increasing, smart users do anything to avoid those ads.
Figures show that new or infrequent web users are likely still to be influenced by web ads and will spend accordingly, More astute and seasoned searchers are not.
Now that doesn’t have to become a trend before brands and other sellers are going to stop spending on the ads that finance the web and research. If brand identification doesn’t lead to spend, then brand owners will conclude it has no point cluttering up our screens.
So we see real challenges for advertisers of everything, the makers of devices who need to reflect as well as drive public preferences and the users who are weary.
Yet, yet. This summer I marked a large number of IGCSE English papers sat by students in the Far East, namely India, Pakistan, China, Singapore and so on. One of the voluntary questions was to write a discursive piece based on the statement, ‘Privacy no longer exists in today’s world, but it doesn’t matter anyway.’
Most cited the internet in some form or other with things like Google Street View and Facebook as obvious references. Others mentioned web searching, online shopping, social media and anti-crime measures – anything where people have to give information or it is taken anyway.
What staggered me was the number of students who thought that not only is there no more privacy in the world but it didn’t matter at all. A considerable number went further and argued that privacy was a bad thing as it led to crime and anti social behaviour and even war.
Time for this oldie to renew the fight against intrusion, before that view takes over the world.
Blogs to see: