Marketers at the Gate: The ever more annoying Web

Cartoon image of sleeping man at computer.It seemed to take forever for the world of marketing to discover there was an Internet and that a lot of people were to be found there. But discover it they did, finally. And as anyone who has used the Internet over the last few years knows, they’re doing their best to kill this golden goose.

Soon the Web will go the way of traditional TV: the trash heap.

Although it seemed the Web was best leveraged by working with users, understanding who your audience was and doing your best to provide it – creating a relationship, in other words – and by marketing your wares in a more restrained, even subtle, fashion, marketers seem incapable of thinking that way.

The traditional advertising mindset still rules and thus we’re now being assailed with in-your-face, irritating crap. Interruptive advertising.

Of course, advertising and marketing are not the same thing but, often, they are – at least when idiots run the marketing department.

I am getting so tired of sites that clog as they load because so much ad rubbish is being simultaneously loaded, so tired of “cute” video and flash interruptions, and so tired of the ever popular music and/or sound effects that play as I surf from site to site, I’m about ready to toss my laptop out the window. I’ve lost track of the number of sites I use to go to that I no longer visit simply because of the endless irritations.

And then there was the Facebook fiasco where some moron thought it would be a cool idea to invade individual privacy and use the site and it’s data in Big Brother fashion. And back in September there was another weaselly use of personal info by Quechup. In both cases the real issue was not asking for permission.

At the same time that we have an increasing use of interruptive advertising and more incidents of misuse of personal data we also have fluff going and growing big time, the best examples being YouTube and Facebook. While there is definite value to both, they are overwhelmingly about brief, slight diversions. Both are designed for people in cubicles who are bored mindless during yet another endless teleconference. They’re about having maybe five minutes to break up the tedium. There is very little that is substantive to either and, let’s be honest, nothing of substance would fly on either, at least in the majority of cases.

I wouldn’t have a problem with this – the Internet has been filled to bursting from the beginning with the irrelevant and superficial. But so much marketing is tied to it now, so many big companies are throwing their all into developing more of these fluff machines, and with such an increase in annoying ads and the numerous personal data issues that keep cropping up, it strikes me that the Web is killing itself.

That may be an extreme response but I don’t think so. And I don’t think the end of the Web would be an “end” as we usually think of ends. The value of the Web is obvious: information and connections and user control. So something else would replace it. And no, I’ve no idea what that would be.

But as user control makes its inglorious exit from the Web and as corporations and their marketing departments do their damnedest to turn it into traditional TV, the Web is less and less a place to be hanging out.

This actually goes along with a long held theory of mine. When something goes mainstream, it’s usually dead or in its death throes. It’s only while it’s on the fringes, of no interest yet to the majority, that it is alive and vital.

I just wonder what the next vital and exciting thing will be. And whether I’ll be bright enough to recognize it.