You simply aren’t feeling bad enough about yourself yet. Luckily, I can assist.
Perhaps you saw the news from Google that 56% of all paid ad impressions are not impressions at all, because they are never seen by human eyes. That sounds dreadful, but it’s actually much worse, because to qualify for having been viewed, an ad must merely have half its pixels on screen for one second. This is what you call your “low bar.”
If such a standard were applied to other areas of enterprise, the scan button on your radio would make every station Number 1 in its market, the Virgin Galactic liftoff would be a triumph and Herman Cain would be president of the United States.
Also, there would be no need for Viagra.
So in consideration of how users employ tunnel vision to focus on content, and how many employ ad blockers, and how no carbon-based organism has clicked on a banner in all of recorded history, we can probably assume that actual viewability of digital ads paid for by brands is a lot closer to 0% than it is to 44%.
Retching yet? Feeling a little clammy? Relax. I’m just getting started.
As a professional observer of the passing scene, I thought perhaps I might visit a site awash in the paid impressions that technically qualify under Google’s definition, but nonetheless leave no impression. My journey began (duh) on Yahoo’s home page, which is an ideal mixture of editorially curated clickbait and Venus-flytrap native. Again, I am paid to be curious, so I naturally alighted on a story about Egypt’s security zone in the Gaza Strip.
No, wait. Come to think of it, maybe it was another story. Maybe it was “13 Stars Who are Taller Than You Think.” Yeah. That one.
It was meant to be a slide show, but what I landed on was more like Times Square -- a blinking, flashing, midway of signage, plus auto-play videos, rendering the slide advance process barely functional amid the constant but hesitant loading of the surrounding ads. In fact, the slides took so long to advance I deviated to another important article. That one was headlined “Celebrities Who are Actually Black” (implying some sort of scandalous deception, as if Vin Diesel and Rashida Jones are falsely famous.) So of course I clicked to learn their dirty secrets, but once again was thrust into a slots casino of peripheral distraction. That page froze altogether.
Now: here’s why you should hate yourself. In each case, I was so fixated on the un-advancing slides, I never cast my eyes on the ad messages themselves. But they cast their eyes on me. Once they flashed, they’d succeeded -- like sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach and retreating back to the surf -- in depositing their cookies onto my browser. They weren’t advertising; they were spyware.
Thanks, Yahoo. Thanks, Suggest.com. Thanks, Capital One.
You have conspired to serve people banners that don’t meaningfully render and interfere with the content, just so you get your annoyed targets’ data -- reducing the advertisement to a Trojan horse. Such conduct is boorish and sleazy, like taking your date to the movies, where you talk loudly and fart the whole time, while your friends ransack her apartment.
Yep, folks, that’s your industry in the digital age: obnoxious, unscrupulous and sneaky. When your kids ask you what you do for a living, here’s what you should do: Lie.
Shouldn’t be too hard. Lots of you do it at work, all day long.