This post is by Doc Searls from Doc Searls Weblog
Click here to view on the original site: Original Post
This is wrong:
Because I’m not blocking ads. I’m blocking tracking.
In fact I welcome ads—especially ones that sponsor The Washington Post and other fine publishers. I’ll also be glad to subscribe to the Post once it stops trying to track me off their site. Same goes for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other papers I value and to which I no longer subscribe.
Right now Privacy Badger protects me from 20 and 35 potential trackers at those papers’ sites, in addition to the 19 it finds at the Post. Most of those trackers are for stalking readers like marked animals, so their eyeballs can be shot by “relevant,” “interest-based” and “interactive” ads they would never request if they had much choice about it—and in fact have already voted against with ad blocking, which by 2015 was already the biggest boycott in world history.
Tracking-based ads, called adtech, do not sponsor publications. They use publications as holding pens in which human cattle can be injected with uninvited and unwelcome tracking files (generally called cookies) so their tracked eyeballs can be shot wherever they might show up with ads aimed by whatever surveillance data has been cleaned from those eyeballs’ travels about the Net.
Real advertising—the kind that makes brands and sponsors publications—doesn’t track people. Instead it is addressed to whole populations. In doing so it sponsors those media, and testifies to those media’s native worth. Tracking-based ads can’t and don’t do that.
That tracking-based ads pay, and are normative in the extreme, does not make right the Post‘s participation in the practice. Nor does it make correct the bad thinking behind notices such as the one above.
Let’s also be clear about the myth, spread by the “interactive” (aka “relevant” and “interest-based”) advertising business, that the best online advertising is also the most targeted. That’s not the kind of advertising that made Madison Avenue, created nearly every brand you can name, and has sponsored publishers and other media for the duration. Instead it’s the goal of direct marketing, aka direct response marketing. Both of those labels are euphemistic re-brandings that the direct mail business gave itself after the world started calling it junk mail. Sure, much (or most) of the paid messages we see online are called advertising, and look like advertising; but as long as they want to get personal, they’re direct marketing.
Getting the world to mistake direct marketing for real advertising is one of the great magic tricks of all time: a world record for misdirection in business. To help explain the difference, I wrote Separating Advertising’s Wheat From Chaff, the most quoted line from which is “Madison Avenue fell asleep, direct response marketing ate its brain, and it woke up as an alien replica of itself.” Alas, the same is true of the business offices of the Post and every other publisher that depends on adtech.
There is a side for those publishers to take on this thing, and it’s not with adtech. It’s with their own moral backbone, and with the readers who keep faith in it.