Just Because It's Feasible, Does That Make It Advisable?

When I was just an itty-bitty columnist, I used to hear my parents complain bitterly about commercials on TV during "The Brady Bunch" and other programs I was permitted to watch. Over the years, this complaining sort of became like a dull roar, as even cable stations seemed determined to pack as much monetization into each program segment, and my clan watched less and less TV.

My dad even got in the habit of turning on the mute button for sporting events, because of the encroachment of inane on-air promos from the well-coiffed ex-jocks. I think he spot-welded it down once just to spite me.

Now, these are folks who also complain about magazines being too heavy with ad pages, so they may be unusual. But, I think of them all the time when people in our industry debate the role of ads online--mostly because they abhor our industry--and their perspective, unfortunately, reflects that of much of dial-up America.

My dad, a retired MD and an extremely worldly, educated man, actually proclaimed this viewpoint to an assembled crowd they were hosting right after the "Go Daddy" commercial during the Super Bowl. I think his quote was along the lines of "I hate what you do." In fact, I'm quite confident that was it verbatim. This--and our Eagles were even winning at the time! This was not a proud moment for me.



I wish Dear Old Dad could come to San Francisco Monday and Tuesday for the OMMA Conference. I'll be moderating a panel on an element of this topic as pertains to interactive--The Debate between Marketer and Consumer--and you, dear reader, may be on the panel yourself.

How's that?

Well, we've confirmed two panelists to represent the consumerist viewpoint: Beau Brendler, the Director of Consumer Reports for Webwatch, and Fran Maier, the Executive Director of TRUSTe. And we've confirmed two panelists to represent the marketer viewpoint: Sean O'Neal, the CMO of Datran Media, and Andrew G. Jedynak, the Senior Vice President and General Manager for WeatherBug.

We'd like to feature one more panelist from each side.

We're all in the business of making money, and most of us are in the business of optimizing the opportunities to monetize Web sessions by users. So, if you get the usual questions like I do from new acquaintances ("you're not one of those pop-up guys, are you?") you may feel just as conflicted as I do when you think up your response. After all, the user has a choice--whether they know it or not. So it's hard to keep a straight face at times--unless you've found spyware on your hard drive, again.

At the same time, we're all Web users too. And I'm sure that each of you has a person in your life like my dad is to me--someone who has a serious disregard for what we do. Consumerists are in the business of defending the rights of these people and others, and theirs is an important role.

What I'm getting at is that many of us could defend either side since we're all consumers and we're all in this business, one way or another--I sort of feel like I play both roles myself. Maybe that's why I get to be moderator.

So pick a side, and write an introductory statement that you'd deliver at OMMA on the Spin Board. We'll be picking one panelist from each side based on what we read on the Board over the weekend. And MediaPost will give each winner a full VIP conference pass, which will get you free coffee in the ready room, among other perks.

I'll even promise not to put you on the spot during the panel. Probably.

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