Monday, August 31, 2015

Ad Blocking and Involuntary Attention

Much is being said about the increasing using of ad blockers by visitors to interactive media sites.

This is what happens when the advertising information burden on many media sites brings about what users perceive as unreasonable and even unfair levels of frustration and economic cost.

The moment-to-moment experience of people can be described as the continuing search for relevance. People have goals and purposes, and they voluntarily focus their attention on information content that helps them advance their goals.

In this connection, advertising is largely a distraction. Indeed, historically, advertising as been successful to the degree it brings about involuntary attention.

In simpler times, with fewer media choices and lower levels of advertising burden, media audience members largely accepted the involuntary distractions of advertising. As readers turned conventional newspaper and magazine pages they accepted the advertising because they controlled the page turning. And the advertising content they did notice sufficiently rewarded readers with useful information and entertainment. In the broadcasting and cable media, commercial breaks were paced so as to maintain audience interest.

Now, we face a new reality in the interactive media world. Advertising content is often immediately forced on the audience before users even get to the desired site. Ads are often surprisingly interjected in layers placed over the content users are actively viewing. Mobile viewers often find ads placed in such ways that their attempts to scroll content cause them to inadvertently click through to unwanted advertising content and even to other sites.

With such widespread use of advertising injecting techniques, it is understandable that many in the interactive media audience are sensing an unacceptable loss of autonomy and are seeking to block what they perceive to be unwarranted interference from advertising. Indeed, for some audience members the interference also introduces download cost burdens.

Some interactive media are responding by blocking the ad blockers.  This seems likely to be a self-limiting direction that will only escalate the current situation.

The growing use of ad blockers is a strong signal that people want more autonomy in their relationships with interactive media. Continuing practices that force feed advertising content while blocking the advertising blockers is not a path to a productive future.

Copyright © 2015 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.