The End of Ads

As a digital futurist, some things have been catching my attention recently. To sum it up: I’ve been reading about utopia. A world without ads.


No, wait, let’s try that again. What we, the internet users and media consumers, are wishing for is a world with…

 

• a moderate amount of ads

• with moderate relevance

• and an ever-present option to pay, in exchange for an ad free tracking free alternative.

 

So let’s do this 1-2-3.

What is a moderate amount of ads? Ads that don’t block all of my screen. Ads that don’t fill the entire intermission in a sports broadcast. Ads that don’t keep on coming back a million times, even after I bought the damn thing already.


What is moderate relevance? Something that appeals to me a little bit – I don’t need a new hair brush, thank you very much – without appealing to me in an intrusive way. A customised offer given to me by a shop owner who knows me is perfect service. The exact same offer given by an algorithm is creepy.

 

And finally: What is a “pay out” option? Well, that one is yet to be explored for the most part. Spotify makes it easy: you pay and you will hear no ads. Imagine the joy if Google or Facebook provided the same option. Save nothing about me. Expose me to no ads. Charge me a little something every month. Until very recently, I was very sure about that: they never will. But as I mentioned, I have read some things that have made me contemplate that a little more.

 

First, just some numbers, so we know what we are talking about:

This kind of money alone makes a strong case: nobody who is strong in that market would consider leaving it.

But what if there is an actual limit to growth?

This short observation, by journalist Tom Foremski – find, follow, read! – touches on a challenging future issue for the biggest global advertisers:

 

What if they are running out of space for relevant ads? The desktop to phone transition doesn’t look it – but is in fact a major blow at Google’s core business.

Google will be fine for another ten years, as the number of internet users continue to grow. The forecast predicts a 90 percent plus connectivity in the world no later than 2030. That’s three billion additional internet users, give or take.


But Google was always in it for the long haul.

If they want to continue to change the world, they will, in effect, have to re-invent advertising. Formats, product placements, opt in models…


It’s no small task. They did it once, and can surely do it again, to regain business efficiency and public acceptance for this particular commercial genre.


These are the things I like to think about – how the digital revolution challenges us all, at depths that we still only can vaguely sense.


How do we create a world that becomes its best digital, commercial and public self? I’m open to hearing your suggestions – which is why any speaking or education session I hold, meeting a new group of people, always contains space for dialogue.


We are in this together.


We have to figure it out together.


Andreas Ekstrom is a Swedish author and journalist, and a frequent speaker around the world, talking about how the digital revolution affects our lives. To book him (or any other speaker) for your event, please contact JLA here.

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