What Billboards and Social Media Have in Common

What Billboards and Social Media Have in Common

May 25, 2011 7:57 am 0 comments

Don’t hate me. This is a reblog from a post I wrote over at the Center for Sustainable Journalism’s blog. Below is an excerpt, but you’ll have to head over there to read the rest.

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I was driving into Atlanta from just north of the city earlier this week when I realized just how many billboards line the interstate. When I realized that their placement just outside of where my attention is supposed to be is similar to traditional website ad placement, I began thinking about why we tolerate billboards but complain about website ads.

Isn’t this spam…real world spam?

I look at this way: for the most part, I am willing to tolerate ads that serve as a revenue stream for something from which I gain utility. Website ads are usually fine because it provides revenue for the site I want to visit. Video ads are usually alright because I want to watch the video, and I couldn’t if there was no way to monetize it. It’s the same for magazines and even the ads on the walls of the MARTA trains and buses. But billboards? The profit from those typically hideous displays of poorly conceived advertising campaigns does not subsidize the interstates or the cost of my driving – yet, I am forced to see them.

That is life in a hyper-capitalist society, you might say. But I think there is a lesson here for how organizations should approach social media.

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