Monday, February 18, 2008

Internet Advertising May Be Self-Limiting

Written From Redwood City, California--

Like millions of other people, I read a lot of news on the Internet. In fact, even before I have collected the Los Angeles Times and New York Times off the driveway at home in the mornings, I usually go straight to my computer to look at the morning headlines on Yahoo. When something big has happened, I will also quickly peruse the Web sites of the New York Times, L.A. Times, the Jerusalem Post, the London Times and CNN. Usually, also, I look first thing at Mark Halperin's The Page on up-to-date presidential campaign news. (Time magazine's Halperin is so up to date, I imagine he sleeps very little).

Then I bring in the newspapers, and quickly glance at the L.A. Times obituary pages, and also, usually the Sports section and editorial pages. Then, I have breakfast and do the blog, and it is sometimes afternoon or even evening before I read the newspapers in depth.

But that is not to say that the newspapers do not remain important to me. I love their detail, I spend hours a day reading them, and there is virtually no chance that I will cease subscribing, even if they do cost a combined $800 a year. The newspapers are what makes my retirement a pleasure -- that and my grandchildren, of course. After my frequent trips, I even read carefully, and thoroughly enjoy, the back issues. The subscription departments of the NYT and LAT can vouch for the fact that I never order the papers suspended when I'm away.

Even when I go on my cruise around Africa starting next month, I have ordered the International Herald Tribune delivered to my stateroom each morning, at a cost of $1.95 a day. When we're off the coast of west and east Africa, it obviously is going to have to be an electronic copy. Perhaps, one day, all newspapers will be delivered that way.

It is commonly said that the newspapers will soon sell more more advertising on the Internet. Already, the New York Times is getting 10% of its revenue by selling Internet advertising, although, with the high standards typical of the New York Times, there is usually a way to click that you want to "skip this ad," and, then, it disappears.

But it seems to me that if advertising becomes too pervasive on the Internet, the Internet will grow less popular. In short, if there is no way to skip ads on the Internet, we'll go back to television and, of course, the newspapers. Ultimately, the print editions of newspaper may recoup some of their share of the advertising dollar.

The reason I prefer advertising in newspapers to ads on the Internet is that you can easily pass over advertising while reading the newspaper, And you can get up and do something else during television programs, assuming you haven't arranged electronically to blot the ads out.

With the Internet, it might not be so easy to get rid of the ads all the time. Sometimes, you're stuck, while a pop-up ad appears, and my tolerance for those is very limited.

Indeed, with the exception of going to the Yellow Pages when I'm in need of something special, like a plumber, I try to ignore all advertiers.. I know they are the principal sustainers of the newspapers I like, but I can't help myself, I have utter disdain and even contempt for them. I stopped going to Dodger games when they put up so much advertising around the stadium that it disturbed the sightlines.

The only time I really pay attention to advertising in the papers or on the Internet is when it becomes so obtrusive and so obnoxious that I vow never to patronise whoever is doing the advertising.

This happened with Macy's when that low-life department store began buying wrap-around ads and page one ads in the L.A. Times. I promptly called on this blog for a boycott on shopping at Macy's, and I was absolutely delighted to see recently that their sales were off 7.1% and they were going to have to shut down some stores.
I know it wasn't my boycott that did this, but if my boycott cost them just one shopper, I'm delighted with it. The boycott was mentioned on one prominent blog in Chicago, and I was very pleased with the notice.

One of the greatest things about the L.A. Times is that it's easy, for the most part, to throw away whole sections, such as classified advertising, or all the advertising sections in the Saturday and Sunday papers, without so much as glancing at them.

And when Mark Willes was CEO of Times-Mirror, the most amusingly stupid things he ever said, in my estimation, was when he used to boast of the readers enjoying the advertisements.

Well, there it is. I know this blog will be shocking to David Hiller and Sam Zell if they read it, which they probably won't. But I won't change my opinions about ads.



Blogger Jashan said...

Absolutely spot on. Internet advertising can sometimes be very annoying especially when it intrudes the content. I think its time someone did something of it; but since there is virtually no authority that can control the internet, it's going to be very difficult.

2/18/2008 12:23 PM  
Blogger Surfsister said...

Much to my horror, my email provider now places ads on the pages where one checks her email!! There is no way to get away from the advertising. That I find insulting and intrusive.

I love this blog. I decided today to finally end mine. Don't stop writing your blog, please. It's better than the newspaper.

2/18/2008 10:26 PM  

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