There's More to Marketing Than Cattle Prods and Car Batteries

I know how you all keep your figures on the gently undulating pulse of media and marketing. And I know that as members of that rare band of acolytes who regularly bleed themselves on the cutting edge of technology, you know of the latest developments in the online advertising industry.

I do not doubt that you are all familiar, then, with the latest trend of pop-up blockers being packaged with the latest versions of browser software. You also probably know that most of these come with the pop-up blockers automatically activated.

But what some of you might not be aware of, is that there are technologies being developed and deployed now to overcome pop-up blockers.

Better mousetraps can, in time, lead to smarter mice.

Comflash -- the same company that brought us ad technology that drives ads now running at far too high a frequency on -- has technology that will actually override pop-up blockers.

It is rumored that an ad serving technology out there has also developed technology that will allow advertisers to get around pop-up blockers. And a quick search on



Google reveals easy-to-use hints for programmers interested in evading pop-up blockers:

"Pop-up blockers rely on calls to JavaScript and HTML events from within the window space. HOWEVER plugins (like flash) are loaded on what I will loosely refer to as an abstraction layer, and so are able to execute commands without being caught!

"One such command is Flash's getURL command... whoch when set to target a blank page... creates an unblockable popup! Unless of course you have a proggy like Flash Stopper... but then all you need to do is hide you popup script in any other plug-in... like QuickTime etc."

As you can imagine, some publishers are going to surreptitiously implement these new technologies to satisfy their business objectives. But what they are also doing is undermining the will of their consumers.

I appreciate a company doing something that it thinks is in its own best interest (Standard Oil and IBM doing business with the Nazis comes to mind), but isn't the subversion of consumer will antithetical to good marketing?

It used to be that companies used advertising to tell consumers about products people wanted or products they needed. Marketers had, over the years, found both overt as well as sublime ways of going about extolling the virtues of their products and services.

But over the years, as marketing has pervaded every nook and cranny of our lives, audiences now have an ever-increasing revulsion for marketing that is a reaction to the assaultive qualities marketing has had to take on in its escalating war with itself.

Marketers combating marketers, in order to be heard above their own din, have entered into an arms race that has turned the media landscape into a communicational Beirut. This naturally evolved aversion to marketing should be met with increasing creativity and intelligence. Instead, as is evidenced in the example of deploying technology to FORCE a form of marketing upon the consumer, consumer rejection of marketing is being met instead with hostility on the part of the marketer.

As an advertiser, the solution to audiences turning the channel to avoid my advertising shouldn't be finding a way to switch the channel back remotely against a viewer's will and preventing him or her from getting up off the couch. It isn't to strap down the Droog and make him watch while playing Beethoven's Ninth.

It should be, ideally, to make it so that an individual wants to stay put in the first place. The next best thing would be to make a person want to come back to the brand and learn more about it at a later time. For the latter, the Web can be a powerful adjunct to broader, more traditional methods of advertising, using broadcast or print to kindly introduce a person to the product or service and guide them to a place that can be accessed at a more convenient time for that individual to learn more.

What does it say when marketers start using the tactics of old communist regimes to keep citizens behind the fence? We are in BIG trouble if the best we can come up with to catch and keep consumers are cattle prods and car batteries.

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