Posted by: bkivey | 15 November 2010

Ad Nauseum

About ten years ago a short story appeared in Analog in which nearly every sentence was ‘interrupted’ by some sort of fictional advertisement.  At the time the conceit was amusing because it seemed unlikely that people would stand for the constant interruption of content (although the term was not widely used at the time) by a constant barrage of ads.

The story now appears eerily prescient.

Over the last several years those who listen to broadcast sports have noticed a creeping ad insinuation into nearly every possible nook and cranny. Now first downs, timeouts, pitching changes, manager visits to the mound, changes of possession, official play reviews, starting lineup announcements, and even that most basic element of a sports broadcast, the score, are all opportunities for plugs. When the Seattle Mariners play at home, the status of the retractable roof is preceded by an ad for a roofing company. It’s only a matter of time before we get turf reports sponsored by lawn care products and companies, or floor or ice reports sponsored by a related industry.

Vexing though these incessant ads may be in the sports world, they don’t hold a candle to the torrent of advertising vomited forth by the World Wide Web. It’s an uncommon website indeed that doesn’t host any number of ads, some to the point that it’s hard to discern the original content (Forbes, I’m talking to you). Commercial media outlets are among the worst offenders, often inserting ads into the middle of articles, or forcing one to sit through commercials when viewing videos. Even more offensive are the in-your-face-ads that load prior to the website content and occupy the full screen or the audio ads that start (and startle) when one navigates to the site.

Even with a broadband connection, it’s entirely possible to sit for upwards of a minute watching ad content load onto a website. That’s a little much. I’ve got news for ya, if a website takes more than about 20 seconds to load, I’m going somewhere else, especially if I see the ad uploads ticking away in the lower left-hand corner of the browser window.

I’ve got nothing against advertising per se; I have products and services I’d like to sell, and effectively placed ads let people know what you’ve got and where to get it. What I object to is the view that because I choose to access some particular content I should have to wade through a sea of advertising to get to it. If I don’t happen to need a particular product or service, all the advertising in the world isn’t going to sway me; in fact, quite the opposite. If you keep throwing your pitch in my face, I’ll make it a point not to do business with you.

I operate a half-dozen websites for personal and professional reasons plus this blog, and nary an outside ad to be seen. WordPress doesn’t allow ads, but my business plan is that if I have sufficient audience for any particular website to make advertising worthwhile, then I’ll go to some sort of subscription model. If folks are interested enough in what I’m doing to buy something, they may as well buy it from me.

My Oh My

Along with the rest of Mariner Nation I was surprised and saddened to learn of last Wednesday’s passing of the Voice of the Mariners, Dave Niehaus. A charter member of the Mariners organization, Mr. Niehaus called nearly every game from  the first in 1977 to the last game of 2010, broadcasting 5,284 of the Mariners 5,385 games. Along the way there was no doubt when a pitch was “Swung on and belted!”, or when a ball would “Fly, fly away!”

Mr. Niehaus gave his audience a feel for the game, setting the stage for each contest with his descriptive narrative, attention to detail, and comprehensive knowledge of the game. Every team broadcaster should be a bit of a ‘homer’, and Mr. Niehaus kept the fans engaged, whether complimenting team members on plays well-turned or expressing disappointment in less-than-stellar efforts.

So after 33 years Grandma can put away the rye bread and mustard: Dave Niehaus won’t be needing them anymore.


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