Hiding from mainstream advertising

I hate ads. It’s not the concept of advertisement itself that I hate – although I harbor my fair share of negative sentiments towards the overtly consumer-oriented lifestyle which is what 99% of the mainstream ads are directed at stoking – but the simple fact that I find most of the ads are just badly done. They’re either misleading, stupid, wildly exaggerated or inaccurate, promote completely unnecessary or even harmful things, are just plain boring or are filled with flat-out lies, for which I have zero tolerance. I will do my damn best to protect my kids from that pollution for as long and as completely as possible, and educate them early to “read” the ads with an extremely critical eye.

Luckily, thanks to both benefits naturally derived from my lifestyle and by using some active ad prevention, I live relatively ad-free.

Take the biggest ad medium of them all, television. Turns out people in Finland and Australia watch pretty much the same amount of TV; 3hrs 9mins per day in Australia vs 3hrs 13mins in Finland [1], [2]. I find this an amazing amount of time. I watch zero hours of television per day, week or even month. None.

(For many years, we didn’t have a television at all. When people heard that, most were perplexed, even astonished, and asked “So what do you DO in the evenings then?!” as if watching TV would have been the only socially acceptable or imaginable activity. I cannot help but be amazed at the lack of imagination or interest in other things that these people displayed just by posing that question.)

The other mass media, radio, is a similar story. People spend a lot of time listening to the radio; Australians a little over two hours per day on average, Finns a little over three hours [3], [4]. Me? Approximately 10 minutes per week; the round-trip time on my weekly grocery drive.

What about the Internet? Online advertising is supposed to be one of the biggest things since sliced bread, and I spend a lot of time on the Internet – but almost entirely ad-free. All I can say is thank goodness for the ad-blocking software, which I love to bits. I’d pay for that, it’s that important to me. When accessing the Internet on someone else’s machine, I’m absolutely astonished how much crap they can stuff on most pages, making them essentially unbearable. And no, I have no problem paying for quality content, so you don’t get to call me a freeloader that relies on offloading the business of eyeballing ads to other people.

Mobile is a little bit trickier, and the mobile devices’ browsers really need good ad-blocking software. Again, I’d pay for that. But since my primary use of mobile devices does not involve random browsing, ads are not a big problem there.

So what, if any, advertising channels do reach me? Somewhat ironically, turns out they’re the oldest advertising channels – outdoor advertising and fliers / printed media. While I’ve transferred all of my newspaper and media readership online, we still have a mailbox that gets stuff put in it – although most of the time it’s just a proxy repository for the recycling bin. So that leaves outdoor advertising, which for the most part just reinforces my views on advertising: that the vast majority of mass advertising is, to put it as politely as I possibly can, not very good.

(Specialized, well-executed and targeted ads are a different matter as they serve the useful purpose of raising awareness of interesting companies/products/services – but they’re a small minority of the overall flood of advertising. I am yet to be creeped out by systems that would serve spookily relevant ads.)

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2 Responses to Hiding from mainstream advertising

  1. Andrew says:

    I don’t watch a great deal of TV, and I am surprised by many of the popular songs on the radio for the few minutes each week that I listen to it. However, I feel I am missing a chunk of pop culture by not seeing more ads. For example, I never saw the Fosters (?) “Big Ad” and that was meant to be significant I think – it got referenced a couple of times on The Gruen Transfer at least. I don’t know what else I could be missing.

  2. sim says:

    I am of course just about as biased as can be here, but I would guess not much 😉

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