GORDON: Ladies and gentlemen, today’s Culture War Correspondence is brought to you by-
-well, we’re going to hash that out in just a second. Our topic tonight is advertising, on this blog specifically.
EVAN: If you all want to check over on our Contact page you’ll see that Michelle, “of BowlingShoes.com, BowlingBags.com, BowlingBalls.com and DiscountBowlingSupply.com” left us an offer to help advertise their products.
This isn’t the first time she’s contacted us either, as she sent the same offer to the blog’s email address, which I thought I replied back when I got it early November but didn’t.
As it stands, I’m going to have to publicly politely refuse her offer, as this blog isn’t the sort of place to find a) bowling paraphernalia reviews or b) other people’s writing. She did help us come to this topic, though, so my thanks to her for that-
GORDON: Which begs the question, of course, if you’d be up for other kinds of advertising here on the blog. What’s your gut reaction to the idea?
EVAN: If I recall correctly, we said we’d consider adding ads to the site after we regularly hit . . . was it 500 daily?
GORDON: I’m afraid I don’t recall that particular conversation. I’m going to presume you’re not opposed to the concept?
EVAN: Well, I’m going to let you all see how the sausage is made and admit that I pay annually for our url. Keeping “www.culturewarreporters.com” year after year has cost me a grand total of $51 thus far.
I certainly wouldn’t mind the site paying back a fraction of what I put into it.
GORDON: Though clearly, you DO have criteria for what you think is and isn’t and appropriate ad for the blog. Could you break that down a bit for us?
EVAN: We definitely did talk about this, but let me refresh your memory and once again grow slightly uncomfortable as I let our readers in on what my plans our for the site.
Ideally what I would like is to set CWR up with Project Wonderful ads. They’re good for both the advertisers, who actually bid for the ad space, and the publishers, with the following explaining why I’m so into it:
“Your site can be earning you money constantly. We take care of the annoying stuff (hosting, statistics, payment, those sorts of things!) while still giving you full control. Choose whose ads appear (and where!) while still being able to cancel ads if you change your mind. It’s a whole new way to do online advertising that’s fast, fun, and basically awesome.”
Having control is pretty key for me, as I don’t want to direct our readers to what I ultimately don’t support myself.
GORDON: Again though, what is it we support?
I mean, the individual writers here at Culture War Reporters all have pretty strong views (perhaps none so more than myself), but we’ve all generally made an effort to avoid claiming any greater agenda. In spite of our sympathies, we don’t seem to have thrown ourselves behind any single banner here.
EVAN: The thing about Project Wonderful is isn’t not big corporations and whatnot, it’s primarily the little guy. So you’ve got t-shirt vendors, webcomics, that sort of thing.
I think that if a small site, similar to ours, wants to pull in the hits and I read up on ’em and see that they’re doing good things then why not-
GORDON: Fair enough.
EVAN: Alright, so I know that you have a particular aversion towards commercials in general, and don’t get me wrong I’ve got AdBlock myself, but how would you prefer they be done?
They’re very much a necessity for businesses, so assuming that they’re not going anywhere what would you like changed? I’m going to say that Hulu’s Ad Tailor is probably a step in the right direction.
GORDON: Honestly, this is a tough question for me. On one hand, yeah, I rail on advertising, but internet ads (barring pop-up windows and the ones that play sound) I view as being about as innocuous as it gets. Honestly, if some company wanted to shell out cash so they could put up a sidebar for everyone to ignore, I don’t know that I’d have any issue with it. Heck, the knowledge that I’m taking money from ’em might even be an incentive for me.
Though maybe you shouldn’t tell ’em I said that.
As far as advertising in general though, I don’t know that I’d ever be able to make peace with it. They say it’s not about selling a product- it’s about selling an experience or a lifestyle. That’s why a yogurt commercial shows more about the pretty (but not TOO pretty) lady in a big, beautiful house with well-behaved kids. It’s why that arthritis medication shows the guy walking by some mountain lake or watching his grandkids play baseball.
EVAN: To everyone out there without experience with Hulu, the streaming site runs each ad asking “Is this ad relevant to you?” This allows you to tailor what ads they run, which I’ve used to set myself up with strictly movie, video game, food, and alcohol commercials.
You don’t have any particular thoughts about that? I’d say that the first two don’t really fit in with your view of advertising as propaganda, though it’s certainly true in many other cases.
GORDON: As far as Hulu goes (and other individually tailored ads, like what Facebook sometimes offers), I can’t comment all that much. I’m a person who avoids buying anything. I don’t eat fast food, I’m not concerned about my dishes shining like the surface of the sun, and I don’t care if my clothes smell like some alpine meadow.
I can’t sing the virtues of “tailored ads” because I don’t think that, for all the data they collect, they’re all that reliable or accurate.
I’d say movies and video games and inherently about experiencing a fantasy, but we’re probably splitting hairs at that point.
EVAN: What I’m trying to say is that when it comes to “art” like movies, video games, other TV shows they are portrayed as is. In other words, you decide whether or not you’re interested in them without them pandering to some sort of life you’re supposed to be living.
From my experience, I never would’ve watched Whites starring Alan Davies without seeing an ad, and I love that show.
GORDON: Hmm- did you see a full-on ad, or was it just recommended as “you might also like…”?
EVAN: It was an actual ad that played in between commercial breaks of whatever it was I was watching, probably brought on because I was watching a lot of British sitcoms at the time.
GORDON: Hm. That’s tricky. It WAS a good show, but if I had to choose between never seeing an ad and missing out on a few shows like that, I don’t know that I’d choose the shows.
EVAN: I’m gonna give you one last chance to chime in on how you’d like ads to be presented, with the hypothetical risk of life being like in the short story “My Flamboyant Grandson” if it isn’t, because we’re almost out of time.
GORDON: Beer commercials.
Probably the only kind out there with a sense of humor and some creativity. I’m not sure if it’s because of how restricted they are, or if they just have good marketing teams, but other than swill like Bud or Coors, I’ve never seen a beer commercial that wasn’t, at the very least, entertaining.
EVAN: I think the minimum concession we can give advertising is that the people behind them are growing progressively more creative, knowing that as a culture we’re not easily impressed.
And now we are officially out of time.
GORDON: Stay tuned for next week’s Fame Day brought to you by Kat and Evan, and don’t forget to drop off a comment below for next week’s discussion topic.
EVAN: Keep us on our toes, y’know? Throw something at us we’re not expecting.
Thanks for reading, everyone, we’re here all week.