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The consequences of ad overload

by Giles Turnbull -- 2000/08/24

New research claims that as internet content expands, so will internet advertising - to the extent that the average user could be subjected to 950 electronic advertisements each day.

The analysts at Jupiter Communications say the online ad market will be worth $16.5 billion by 2005.

But for the advertising agencies to be making that kind of money, there will have to be an explosion of ad opportunities that will likely make today's environment of banners and spam seem tame in comparison.

With this kind of clutter littering their monitors, will internet users just sit back and accept it? Will that be the price people have to pay for high-bandwidth, always-on mobile connections, which is, after all, what everyone is predicting we'll be using within the same time scale.

Marketers will face two problems: one, as detailed in the Cyberatlas article, that they will have a tougher job getting their message across when there are so many other messages to compete with.

The other, though, will be a consumer backlash against this assault of commercialism. Simple programs that block out banners are already easy to find, but as the medium gets more saturated, the demands for ad-blocking software will get more insistent. The marketers will find themselves blocked with every step they take, and by more and more people.

Not, though, if the permission marketers have their way. According to this idea, you'll only get the advertising you want to get. The vast majority of people will probably subscribe to this system because that will be the norm. With digital TV, your TV advertising will work the same way. People will be accustomed to it.

There's another choice though: go offline. Or at least, don't use the same internet that everyone else does. Could we see a migration of internet purists to new, advertisement-free networks, inspired by the development of ideas like Freenet?