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diaryland: sirilyan.diaryland.com: entry for 2001-09-04 (13:34:00)
In which our plucky young hero talks about boring ad stuff.

I find it ironic that at a time the online ad market is in free fall -- not that this makes today any different from any other day in, oh, the past eighteen months -- there are companies that feel they don't really need to show advertising.

One big example right now is Salon, the doorknob-licking capital of the Bay Area. They have these new, heinous full page ads that everyone hates, which take over your browser and force you to click a link to go from the index page to an actual article.

Or so I'm told.

Since I normally deactivate JavaScript in all of my browsing environments, I've never actually seen one of these full-screen ads.

What I still see plenty of, though, are ad banners. That puny 468x60 banner has, right at the time we're patting down the dirt on its grave, truly come of age. The low end of bandwidth right now for the typical home user is a 28.8k modem, and the high end is cable or DSL connectivity that starts at 256k/sec and goes up from there. When you're using DSL, the additional time suck for a 20k GIF banner ad is near-zero. It's not nearly the instant experience that you get with an eighth-page ad in your local newspaper, but it's getting there.

Which is why I find it sad that the banner has been so maligned, and was so horribly abused before its proper time in the sun. Now we will block anything that is 468x60 regardless of what it might be, whether through some sort of HTTP proxy or by just not looking at it, and what will come instead isn't that much better: invasive, full-screen advertising, or dead sites that couldn't pay the bills. (Salon seems to be batting 1.000 in that department, but don't tell them I said that - I might want to pitch to them someday.)

It seems to be an iron law that whatever the favored advertising method of the day is online, it will require 150% of the bandwidth and user attention that people will offer without being pissed off. The day after everyone has gigabit Ethernet to their desktops, we'll get HDTV full-motion commercials in between pages on a site. The day after hard drive space becomes too cheap to meter, we'll get spam email of HDTV full-motion commercials.

For the most part, I blame the ad industry. They have been on the forefront of annoying the customer for the past several years. This isn't good business; it's helping to ensure your own destruction. There is a time to be cutting-edge, and a time to be conservative. A soft ad market and a jaded public mean that this is one of those conservative times.

Even if, you know, it means I actually have to see an ad banner. Somehow, I'll survive.

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