The following little rant was inspired by a recent episode of the 'Pitch' podcast. The episode is about product placement in music. It's around 16 minutes long, and worth a listen: http://www.pitchpodcast.org/episodes/#/19-take-a-little-ride-with-coors-light/
With that said, the following isn't about that.
One of the reasons -- in fact I would go so far as to say that it was the main reason -- that I moved back to Providence, and decided I didn't want to work in Manhattan any more, was the ubiquity of advertising in New York City. It was literally everywhere -- giant billboards on the sides of many buildings, little TVs playing ads in cabs, ads on the sides of busstops, ads inside subway cars, and so on.
So, fine, it was the price of working in Manhattan, and, like most people, I assumed it didn't have much of an effect on me. And, really, wasn't it just a matter of degree? It's not like other places don't have ads.
But then I realized that, when I talked to people who didn't live or work in Manhattan, I would make jokes about ads, and they would have no idea what I was talking about. It was pretty clear that I really had internalized the ads that were constantly being shoved in my face. It didn't seem healthy, so I left.
The Internet has become my new Manhattan. The websites I access the most are probably facebook, google, and youtube, and each of these has become more and more in your face with their advertising. (The ever-increasing length of YouTube ads is particularly annoying.) Twitter and Tumblr, too, with their 'sponsored posts', have started getting pretty in your face with their ads. Also, I listen to a ton of podcasts, and most of them have native advertising (where the hosts plug the products), which can raise all kinds of issues.
But this is the deal that we have basically made: We won't pay for anything, and, in return, we'll put up with the ubiquitous ads. (Or we won't, and we'll install ad-blocking softward. But, mostly, we put up with it.) On a slightly different topic, we won't pay for music, but we'll be OK with it if the musicians we like lend their talents to pitching products. But my feeling about it is the same as it was when I was in Manhattan: It's infiltrating my consciousness, and I don't think it's healthy.
I want there to be ways to support services I enjoy, other than just being a product they can sell to their advertisers. This is why I pay for Slate+, which gives me ad-free versions of their podcasts, and contribute to Maximum Fun, who relies primarily on their listeners for their revenue. In a less positive direction, it's why I've started aggressively skipping over ads in podcasts I listen to, and why I should probably give in and install an ad blocker. There's got to be a way to do this that doesn't mean that ads are almost literally everywhere.