Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting

DISPLAY CONSULTING

 

An Unfortunate Consequence…

Printed trade publications are by now pretty much history.  And of course many other printed publications are struggling as well.  Trade magazines were and are typically free to qualified users.  This means they have to generate all of their revenue from advertising.  Before the Internet came along, companies needed the exposure that came from advertising and writing articles for these trade publications.  But now, with Internet search engines and the much lower advertising rates that electronic publications can offer, most advertisers have succumbed to the seemingly greater benefits along with lower cost of electronic media. 

Is this really as wonderful as it sounds?  Has the electronic media really provided all the benefits at much less cost compared to traditional printed publications?  Unfortunately, my personal observations as a user do not support this perception of panacea.  When I read a printed publication, I am in complete control of the process.  I can glance at ads, I can read the articles – or not, I can skip around if I wish, and I can do this wherever and whenever I want as long as I have the magazine tucked into my briefcase.   Retention for future reference is also trivially convenient – just tear out the page or article and bring it back to the office.

Let’s now compare this convenient process to accessing a typical trade publication in electronic format.  I receive at least a dozen of these each day and they all seem to have settled into the same basic approach.  There are typically six to a dozen headlines along with short “teaser” paragraphs, surrounded by ads along both sides of the screen.  As far as my perception goes those ads do not even exist – I block them out.  I scan the article titles and if I see one that appeals to me I click on it. 

So far so good!  However, at the next step is where life in the electronic information age begins to get less enjoyable.  Instead of getting the article I would like to read, up pops a full screen ad for something that I typically have no need for and/or no interest in.  There is sometimes the option for skipping these ads, but clever folks have built in a delay so I am forced to look at the ads for five or ten seconds anyway.  Then, finally,  I get to see the article except I must now wait while the screen is loaded with all variety of new ads that are placed in every available space on the screen – above the article, on both sides of the article, in the middle of the article.  The screen stays frozen while all this information is being dumped on me.   Again I must sit and wait until this process is complete before I can get past the title and the first paragraph.  So rather than being able to overview the information, I have been forced to sit and wait through two steps of ads being pushed on me that I really did not want to see.

Recently, I have observed a new phenomenon that seems to be an additional insult in this process of making electronic media reading ever more inefficient.  I’m now encountering situations where only a portion of the article is made available on the first round of this already frustrating access.  After a few additonal paragraphs a “to be continued” note appears that tells me that if I would like to read the rest of the article -- the most interesting part -- I must now go to yet another electronic location.  And you guess it – the accessing process produces yet another round of pushed ads. 

Our cable provider, Comcast, has likewise succumbed to a similarly obnoxious advertising push.  The home screen shows all kinds of headlines and photos to entice the user to click on an article or a video clip.  But instead of getting the video clip up comes a 30-second ad that cannot be cancelled before the clip is to be viewed. 

I may be in some kind of a small minority here but I have never yet responded to one of these ads.  Instead they have made me so frustrated that I no longer even attempt to view anything that certain electronic publications send my way.  I have also become very selective of which articles I try to read in electronic trade publications.  I now know that it will take me several minutes of wasted time to get to the information that I want to see.   Compared to a printed publication, the efficiency of acquiring information is many times slower.  And because of the irritation factor, an ad that might have interested me in a printed publication gets purposely ignore on my monitor screen. 

Finally, we have all learned by now that the Internet is a dangerous place.  There are all kinds of scams, malware, sites that pretend to be what they are not, and yet other lurking dangers.  It would be foolish to open any kind of promotional ad that is sent our way.  Even e-mails from people we know have to be viewed with care.  My real friends and colleagues never send me real messages that simply say “click here to see a great opportunity”.  But that is what occasionally comes my way in spite of their best efforts. 

Yes, I do miss print publications.  They were convenient and reliable sources of information that could be enjoyed at odd times of the day.  It was very relaxing to just lean back in a chair with a magazine on my lap and flip through the pages at my own pace and discretion.   Is it possible that advertisers will come to realize that the Internet may not be all that wonderfully effective – and that maybe they can’t get the same result at much less cost?  Unfortunately, I think that is not going to happen any time soon.  The efforts to push promotional information at us will most likely get worse before there is a realization that readers are no longer responding and that the ads have lost their effectiveness.   

How are you coping with this new world of electronic media?  If you would like to share your experiences, you may contact me directly from this site, by e-mail at silzars@attglobal.net, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.       

 

 

 

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