Occasionally I get suckered into hitting a clickbait article link. It’s okay, I can admit it and therefore can start the healing process. But I must admit that my thirst to know “10 Secrets You Never Knew About ‘90’s Cartoons” can be easily squashed by a site with too many ads.
A certain understanding should come into play in this new world of information technology: Ads are money. We buy things, we go places—sure—but we will never escape ads.
They’re on our phones and our computers and tablets; they’re on buses and on giant signs in the sky; television now as a 3-to-1 ratio of programming-to-commercials; respectable newspapers allow ads masked as news articles to be printed in their publications; we sit through commercials when we go to the theater! When I bring my Kindle Fire up from sleep mode, the first thing I see is an ad. Even as I sit here typing this up on my Microsoft Word Starter, there is a tiny, changing ad in the bottom right-hand corner of the window.
Ads are so prominent in our society that it’s not unheard of to see people with tattoos of product logos. Tattoos of product logos. Your love for dodge trucks must run really deep if you allow yourself to be permanently branded with their ram’s head icon.
We live in a time in which one click can be equal to one quarter. In which more money goes into marketing a product than developing the product itself. In which one good viral campaign can make you a millionaire.
On some levels I find this all amazing. How did we get here? How does a country that once prided itself on manufacturing worry more with the right font or background music?
But on other levels, I find it highly disturbing. Not because marketing money is a sort of invisible transaction, but because it’s so overwhelming. It makes me wonder if I have any personal taste that’s completely mine. Do I truly love the products I love? Or do they just have a great marketing team? Are the services I subscribe to worth my dime? Or am I just in it because they made me think I need it?
A few weeks ago I made up the picture at the top of this entry mocking certain websites. And while my friends on Facebook found it funny, it wasn’t really meant as a joke. I designed it after finding that I couldn’t swim through the ads of a particular page. That “template” is actually pretty accurate to said site.
I think people who make money from ads are impressive. It’s a feat that I can marvel at. However, I keep finding it difficult to try and sidestep into the industry. I have two sites—this blog and its associated vlog, neither of which I’ve monetized yet. You’ll occasionally find ads on both sites, but they aren’t from me (WordPress shows ads unless you pay them not to, and when you use certain copyrighted songs on YouTube they place ads on that video to compensate), but every time I say to myself, “Maybe now is the right time to do it,” I just can’t seem to.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a marketing guy. Sometimes I think that because of this, I’ll never make money in this ad-driven world. Instead, I prefer people to feel like they’re getting something for their money* (or clicks, as it were).
For the online artist, ads are a huge help, though. I know that a lot of my favorite people are forced to put them up on their sites. Which is a shame, since nothing looks better than a clean, ad-free page.
One day I might have the fan base so that monetizing would be well worth it. But until that day, I’ll keep my sites as ad-free as possible. I’ll never say that I’ll never have them, though, because in a world where avoiding seeing ads is damn near impossible, making money without them is even less likely.