Interruption marketing is becoming outdated
I have been using AdBlock for two to three years now. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it blocks advertisements from appearing on your computer. Yesterday, for the first time since I installed AdBlock, I had to watch an ad on YouTube. I don’t know how they managed to get around the software: was it just a hiccup in AdBlock or did some computer scientist at Google crack the code? You can imagine my anguish, being forced to watch a supermodel dance in designer jeans for a whole 15 seconds. Ruined my whole afternoon. I’m still not buying the jeans. Frankly, I don’t think I could pull them off like she did.
Marketing on the internet can get weird. Getting the attention of college hippie lowlifes like myself who have AdBlock installed on their laptops and a “fight the power” mentality installed in their hearts is challenging. Some companies take on that challenge effectively while others fall short. Forbes blocks anyone using AdBlock from entering their website until the person deactivates it. Not in a million years would I care enough about anything Forbes has to offer that would convince me to allow them to spam me with ads for things I will never buy. All it does is discourage web traffic; if I accidentally end up clicking a Forbes link, I immediately back out. RateMyProfessor is starting to move in the same direction. This type of advertising might work for older demographics, but in the long term, Millennials are going to be around for at least another 10 to 60 years, depending on how this whole “global climate change” thing plays out, and will be the most important consumers in the market.
I am not unsympathetic to the fact that advertising is how these companies make their money. But this is 2017 and the internet is the internet. Everything is free unless you provide a good enough incentive to pay for it. You have to be better than throwing a Town Fair Tire pop-up at me every time I try to click on a link. Netflix and HBO provide quality content so people pay the subscription fees. Google recently announced that they’re ridding YouTube of unskippable 30-second ads. It is a move in the right direction: forcing companies to be creative with small windows of time yields better advertisements and is less intrusive to viewers. Young people have a subconscious AdBlock: we are so oversaturated with advertisements that we just tune them out, with or without software to help.
As I see it, the best way to market to younger demographics on the internet is to create content worth consuming that happens to advertise your product as a consequence of the consumption. For example, Wendy’s has a twitter account that puts out some humorous alternative content that makes them, potentially, worthy of a follow. Denny’s Tumblr blog is both bizarre and hilarious. Visiting either account is voluntary but they have fostered a reputation that makes visiting desirable.
If the CEO of Forbes happened across this piece, he would not have some sudden epiphany about the company’s online strategy: ads that interrupt us during our leisure time yield enough of a profit that firms do not care how many people they annoy. The existence and widespread use of AdBlock software is a response to that. It is a statement that we don’t owe any company even a single second of our time or attention, and that they aren’t welcome in every aspect of our lives, no matter how hard they try to be.
Dan Riley is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at email@example.com.