Thank you for interrupting: On advertising

Imagine you're sitting on sandy beach, sipping a summery cocktail, listening to distant sounds of live music.  You close your eyes and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the moment, the splashing sound of the sea.... when a total stranger informs you that a cocktail bar next door has 10% discount on Fridays.  

Rude? Yes. Intrusive? Absolutely! Insane Not far from it. Yet that's exactly what advertising is doing every day. Magazines, cinemas, public transport, public spaces, waiting rooms, media devices, songs. You name it marketers have thought of it. Advertising free space? If there is one it's only because no one has discovered it yet.

And it's not just the omnipresence, form or frequency of the ads that are annoying. There's also content and timing.  Ads are made to catch you in your daily life or better yet to interrupt it. As often as possible. Sometimes it's hard to tell whether the ads are interrupting our lives or our lives are interfering with advertising.

Like your YouTube sessions with Leonard Cohen, after he dances you until the end of love and just before it is closing time, you'll find out all about new burger place and summer deals on insurance.  And you know that nothing sets the mood before watching a movie in the cinema like finding out about new mascara/watch/insert a random product. It's supposed to be stuff we're into (and sometimes it is), but what if you're into having some privacy and the ad-free time?

There is virtually no way to protect yourself against ads and commercials. Not even on the basis of blocking sexist, racist or otherwise problematic content, which is usually the case. You can put "No ads" sticker on your mailbox or install an ad-blocker in your browser. But it's like trying to protect oneself from a hurricane with an umbrella. 

As if that wasn't enough, ads are now being disguised as articles. Native advertising crossed another border between transparent and suspicious. Marketers found a new ways to sell. Sponsored content isn't always clearly marked (and sometimes not at all) so it's hard to be sure about the motivation behind the content. For a critical view on native advertising, check John Oliver’s entertaining rant on native advertising.

There is no such things as the free lunch, free platform or free app. We might not pay for it with money, but we surely pay with our time. Perhaps there it's time we start measuring our lives in advertising minutes.  And while time is money, unlike the latter, you will never recover lost or stolen time. 

Found a good way to deal with ads? Great! Leave a comment and let me know.