Ad Blocking

It doesn't take long to figure out that the next generation doesn't like advertising.

Its curious because their world -- the Internet -- is cluttered with ads, search results, links, videos, pop-ups and the like from companies desperate to get through to them.

TV isn't getting the job done.

Radio? Forget about it. Any medium that thinks six commercials in a cluster will be heard is mistaken. It is a miracle that radio got away with it so long.

The Clear Channel of their world is Google -- the search giant you can't ignore. Google seems to be on a mission to be everywhere with its search-based advertising and in a lot of ways search advertising is really new age spot radio.

The same fate awaits it.

Gen Y doesn't use Google to see advertising. They use it to find the information they want. However, just as radio has convinced advertisers that spot radio is worth buying, Google has the world convinced that search is the way to target exactly the customer advertisers are seeking.

It's not.

Now, things just got worse for Internet advertisers.

There's a new, easy-to-install program called Adblock Plus that could become what the modern day "clicker" is to TV and the seek buttons are to drivers looking to change radio stations seamlessly.

Here's how it is described in Forbes:

"Adblock Plus takes a minute to install and instantly replaces annoying banner ads and intrusive videos with pleasant white space. It is one of the most popular free downloads for Firefox, the rival browser to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Firefox is used by one out of six Web surfers worldwide. Three million people are already using Adblock Plus, and every three months another million join them".

Microsoft may want to consider this before trying to buy Yahoo, the down-on-its-luck search giant that is second to Google. Adblock Plus will likely continue to grow exponentially and before long even the illusion that Internet ads work will be -- well, an illusion.

Don't blame the next generation.

They are no different than their fathers and mothers. We hate advertising 364 days a year -- Super Bowl Sunday being the exception.

But this generation tires of things quickly. They have more control over their media than any previous generation. What other generation could steal music? It couldn't be done from a record store unless you wanted to risk arrest. It's possible today because the Internet allows users to control the delivery system.

What previous generation could have custom "radio stations" in their pockets? This generation can program their iPods without daffy djs and commercials.

Radio is starting to fear the big bad wolf of media -- the Internet. The radio industry is panicked as it watches traditional ad dollars cross over to the dark side of cyberspace. The TV business would actually like to control the delivery system for its programs again -- a throwback to the days when it owned key affiliates and paid obscene compensation dollars to TV outlets to carry network programs. TV networks force viewers to watch pre-roll commercials -- or as Gen Y calls it one last chance to check your email before the show starts.

I know Google stock still sells for $500 a share -- radio should be so lucky.

But they are both on the road to nowhere.

The best ad investment is one that delivers results. Results come after a message is received. Banner ads, search results and even spot radio do nothing for advertisers.

What does is relationship selling -- the kind that might (I said might) evolve from social networking sites that are cropping up all over the place. People telling other people what they like and what they buy -- the next logical extension of product ratings. Facebook is trying to delicately get into social network selling.

Google's mindset is to treat advertising as a commodity. Radio loved that idea because they fantasized about how they could cut their sales staffs, reduce pay and benefits and let Google do all the work.

Funny about that.

Google has failed so far to help radio undo whatever relationships it worked long and hard to establish with advertisers and agencies. Back to the drawing board?

I'm not Google. My stock is not worth $500. But if I were radio and television right now, I'd let Google knock themselves out trying to become the replacement for spot radio.

The future is in relationship selling.

That is when the medium has a personal relationship with the advertiser.

And the medium has a personal one-on-one relationship with the listener or viewer.

Audiences don't hate commercials. They hate the advertising with which many companies choose to bombard them. But one day a year -- everyone loves commercials.

And it's not just about making commercials better. It's about making them different. Redefining what a commercial is.

The bad news is radio is no better than the Internet advertising monster it fears.

The good news is that the Internet advertising monster it fears is no better than radio.

Radio has had de facto ad blocking for decades. It's called changing the station.

Now the Internet has what could become an unstoppable menace -- ad blocking which might prompt radio executives to say welcome to our world.

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