Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Disliking ads but not my favorite products

I was appalled to learn that my university gets more than a million emails a month and that more than 80% of it is spam.  Not the canned meat, of course, but "unwanted" email.  That seems like a big waste since I doubt if anybody at all makes worthwhile money from it. 

I talked with a student once and told her that she could submit work by email.  She got a downcast look and I asked what the problem was.  She got tears in her eyes and said she couldn't use email.  I thought she was one of those
rare students we get sometimes, who really did not know how to use a computer.  Sometimes, a person just never had a chance, especially in those days.  No, she knew how but her mail box was too much for her.  That very day, she had laboriously deleted 400 emails from her account but during the time she was doing that, 600 new ones came in.  I sent her to our campus help desk for assistance.

I just read the Wikipedia article on spam and it said that about 200 spammers in the world sent most of the bulk mailings.  I have heard that before and didn't like the thought of renegade spoilers causing the rest of world problems.  I still don't and I think careful investigations can distinguish criminal spammers from others.  Still, it is surprising how much one person's spam is another person's find. 

I don't like ads on television although I guess the money paid by advertisers supports the people who put on the programs.  I do get irritated by a loud commercials and even more by a loud commercial that just ran 15 minutes ago.  I am curious about just how much evidence supports the outlay of money for ads anywhere.  I suspect few do much.

Sometimes, I try to count the ads in a single interruption in a show but I usually lose count.  It is often 6 or 8 different products.  Can you imagine trying to speak to a group on 6 to 8 different, separate topics in the time allowed for ads and actually communicate the ideas.  The series on the set just makes a jumble of images.  With modern graphic abilities, there will elephants held in the hand of a baby or other striking images.  Way back in the days of David Ogilvy, research had already shown that when I show my product and explain its superiority over the other one, viewers often come away with the information that the other one was shown to be better.  They get confused.  I get confused. 

Still, advertising matters.  Just open a little business of some kind and see for yourself.  I find it is easy to forget the real function but then I recall the number of times, I have gone to a book in the stacks and found a better one beside it.  Discovery and information from the title advertised the book to me.  Amazon.com usually fail when it give me "recommendations", sometimes recommending a book to me that I bought yesterday!  But there have been times when their system tells me about other books I might be interested in and I very much am.

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