Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, September 23, 2005

Advertising Future: Ads As Searchable Information

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Ads are nothing else but information devoted to promote, market, sell or provide specific information about a product, service, commercial event.

Our brain processes ads as another information block. On the other hand our brain has also learned that ads need extra processing for useful application, as they are psychological treats served to persuade you to spend some money somewhere.


Some of the extra processing our brain has to do when looking at ads is to keep those messages in context with other not-explicit facts about those very ads, like:
Ads cannot be trusted word for word.
They portray realities and scenarios that are part of a fantasy world.
They are not verified or certified for truthfulness.
They cannot be challenged.

In the sense that no-one can easily challenge an ad statement while having the same exposure and playing ground as the ad itself. Yes you could complain, you could make a legal suit but you could not easily challenge ad statements in their tracks, just like blogs today can challenge a misleading or false mainstream news item as it breaks.

But does it have to be like this?

Do we really need to be slaves to a system of marketing and promotion born out of the unique scenarios dictated by our now past mass-industrial era? Are the boundaries dictated by factors of scarcity of space, time and attention still there?

In the age of information, where abundance is a modest description of the gigantic wave of information bits flowing around us, scarcity is a game played on you by those who either can't see ahead, or have large interests in making sure we don't "wise-up" to something smarter.

Our ever running brain monkey loves the infinite opportunities ads offer to its insatiable craving for distraction.

But do you too?

What about if you didn't have to run anymore through text surrounded by ads on all sides, gently, swiftly and subtly calling to your attention?

Would you be wanting to be visiting the ancient parts of Rome while a multitude of peddlers, prostitutes and outright rogue individuals was trying to get your attention continuously?

Not that the companies behind the ads we see are all like these individuals. Far from it. But the point is that their messages DO act like they were like those characters: they look and whistle at you, they stop you in the middle of your walk, they scream and dance in front of your nose to get your attention. When in fact we have really come here for something else.

Did we ask for an extra beer?
Did I say I wanted another software?

I don't think so. ...But the ads keep coming, no matter what.

Worst than everything above is that we have become so accustomed and used to these interruptive ads that we take them for granted. We think that this IS the normal, good, intelligent way to promote and market. We think it has been like this forever and forever it will need to be the same.

But interruptive ads as we know them, are nothing but a communication strategy turned into a disease during the mass media communication era. That was last century. Few prominent media: radio, tv, film, newspapers, with very high costs of production and distribution. Scarce air-time, scarce air-space, a limited and controlled monopoly of the audiences hooked to the few channels available; little attention by listeners, viewers and readers, who have indeed unrelently challenged the validity of ads by skipping and sidestepping them brought advertisers to design and invent creative solution to intrude, interrupt and sidetrack you while becoming perceived as interesting, or fun. And so the cancer evolved.

But it doesn't have to be like this.

What about if I wanted to get to that information WHEN I decide I want it? Not when YOU (advertiser) decide to.

What about if I could say "give me the listings of all advertisers offering new anti-virus software?"

What about if the ads you saw were not all designed in different sizes and formats, with wildly changing designs and graphics, but where all standardized in ways that would promote the provision of information versus the spreading of visual hype?

What about if you could sort how many of these ads to see, and how to sort and filter them?

What about if you could sort those ads by clicks of other readers (popularity), or by age of the company or ad. Imagine if you could have a look-ahead function (just like the one just launched by Surfwax) that allowed you to pre-browse a certain product category and pre-assess what products and services are indeed available.

What about if this system of buyer-driven advertising had a facility allowing any registered consumer to also comment, rate or share information connected to any ad? What a wonderful flip side of the coin for those that buy. Finally it is not only the company talking but also the buyers and potential customers who can respond and comment on a product. Would you hate being able to click on any ad and see this reverse side?

How long can you market me something not worth its money when I can always read and know what the other buyers say about you on the back side of your ads?

So, while on my two wheels this morning I was imagining a little new tab on the Google search options. It said: ads.

It is the first step toward understanding that we don't have to bug and interrupt each other to get our messages across in the best possible way. As the internet drives information to users in ways that they individually direct it is only wise to think-ahead and to start providing marketing information in ways and fashions that match and ride the new media economy of abundance and a user-driven model of information provision.

What do you think?

In truth I am writing this against all of my petty interests as I do live off the advertising displayed next to this very words. For me it is a godsend: it allows me to be an independent writer and to be free from having to go and work a 9 to 5 job for a company that sells something I don't even care about. But I do recognize that this is not the way I would want things to be in the future. And so I take this humble, pre-emptive step to say what I think of how I would like things to be.

And let me say I may not be so far off the map of what's coming next. Look at Google AdSense recent introduction of mini advertising ads that allow the reader to search for the ads he wants to see and tell me how unlikely is that Google or one of its key competitors will walk this road soon.

Readers' Comments    
2009-05-31 00:29:23

Ann Arbor Michigan Web Site Design

I know what you mean, ads are bugging, but they are a necessary evil. They generate the revenue needed. Its like the surgeon's knife, no one wants it but every one needs it.

2007-02-10 01:18:27


It seems a very intereseting time for advertising at the moment. Just check out and go to the link below once you have viewed the content. It is a whole new world!

2006-01-04 04:25:37


No doubt you are right about how pop-ups and other such idiosy are driving the need for change in marketing forms. Especially since computer software will always be more adept than marketers with captive markets, and market sheep.
What I think is at play in a larger scenario is that the vacuous empty notion that endless consumption will feed the soul. When it's for sale it's hard to wrap it in a spiritual wrapper and not be seen as shallow self-serving dribble.
In other words what marketers have been failing to recognize is that the play is the thing -not the marquee. The culture comes 1st not the market. And
if marketers make the culture unbearable then they will reap what they sow. Unless they can put themselves in the position, like many corporations where they receive government subsidies while at the same time destroying their consumer base.
Maybe we should be asking other prudent questions like since we've been living like parasites (in North America) on the back of the environment, what are we taking for granted? What set of assumptions under which we've been operating will
prove to he false or misreads. The Roman's thought
if you put cheese in a box and wait for 2 weeks then. Poof! You've created mice! We see this as myopic and silly. Yet who will tell you that you can have a society that wants gazillions of colours, only to discover that cleaning the paint brushes, means the end of civilization! This is secret government information that we are not supposed to know but experts place the American dream model as only being viable for 200,000 people.
Marketing at its core is about lying and manipulating others to buy shit, associating it with nirvana. The all time hat trick for a marketer would be a 2nd christmas in july.
A frog dropped into boiling water will jump out
but a frog put in cold water and then slowly heated up to boiling won't.
We have seen the collapse of the world's greatest fishery off the coast of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, fishery collapse on the west coast.
Farmers have been warning us for 50 years about the rape and pillage farm model.
Did you see the movie "The Corporation" or "Manufactoring consent" ? or Michael Moore's Downsize This? The canaries are dying and most are still twiddling their thumbs.
So do you now want to voluntarily slip the noose around your own neck? Why trouble the Winners with
their bottomless black hole souls?

2005-09-25 20:17:47



This is arguably your most insightful post yet. I have been thinking along the exact same lines. I'd love to talk to you about how you think advertising will be delivered in the future. Do you have Skype? If so, please feel free to add me to your contacts. All my details are on my blog:

Please get in touch!

posted by Robin Good on Friday, September 23 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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