Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Clickable Ads

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jun 16, 1998

Posted to HotWired 16 June 98

Actually, Art, I think that the reader would much rather simply 'click' on the ad in the dead-tree version and have more information appear. It really is too much work to put down the mag and log on to the net. It makes more sense to have the ad information next to the information the person is reading.

This presupposes that the issue is not, in fact, paper, but rather, a magazine size (and weight) viewer (I like to call them PADs - Personal Access Devices). PADs will look and feel like books. You will be able to curl up in bed and read a good PAD novel (or watch the hockey game - whatever). PADS are around the corner, and will become more viable as the price of paper increases.

But even that's sort of a wasteful way of doing it. PAD-space is prime real estate. Why waste it with an ad which only might be of interest to the reader? What would make more sense would be for the reader to subscribe to an info-service via wireless internet (let's call this service, say, Air Wired). When a person subscribes to Air Wired (which is, of course free), they are presented with a menu of topics they'd like to see articles on. They would also be presented with a menu of companies (or divisions of companies) they'd like to see ads from. From time to time, this menu would reappear, offering new choices based on the user's reading patterns and on new companies or product offerings.

While a subscription to Air Wired would be contingent on viewing a certain number of ads, Air Wired would be providing a better service to its advertisers by providing committed viewers. Click-throughs (currently at one percent, according to today's ZDNet's Berst Alert) would rise dramatically. The ads would provide a needed service to readers as well as the advertisers. People would decide whether or not to subscribe to Air Wired not only on the basis of its content, but also on the basis of its ads.

Advertising as a medium per se is dead. It is dead not because it is annoying, but because it is inefficient. With personalized subscriptions, marketers have much better ways of targeting potential consumers.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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