There has been a lot of hubbub about the mommy blogger rant that’s gone viral in the past few days. I credit Dia for bridging it into the miles and points world (at least out of the blogs I read). Apparently it was in Time magazine or something? I only read that at the doctor’s office and that’s only after I’ve done all the searches in Highlights magazine.
I enjoyed the rant. I enjoy TBB’s rants. I think they are important and remind us to keep everything in perspective. More importantly, they are reminders to us that we need to be intelligent consumers. Shady schilling and shameless promotion definitely get me worked up from time to time.
But let’s be honest here: advertisements and promotions have been around since, I don’t know, the birth of capitalism? Why single out sellout mommy and point bloggers?
The Philadelphia 76ers just announced that they are going to be the first NBA team to place advertisements on their jerseys. Outrage has ensued on Twitter. But European sports leagues have had ads on their jerseys forever. It’s only a big deal to us because we haven’t seen it in the NBA before. But it’s not like the NBA and its affiliates haven’t been trying to sell us on products all this time.
Do people get outraged about ads on TV? Billboards? The subway? Those new monitors they put in at gas stations talking about products?
This is the realization I came to when reading the momrant. Everyone is trying to sell something! I’m too old and too busy to get mad about it anymore.
Now, I wish this world were more ideal. That people would get paid to talk about products they love and that those connections would happen organically. If someone (Disney) paid me to go somewhere (Disney) and write about how much I loved it (Disney) I would happily take that money (Disney gift cards are an acceptable form of tender). Would what I write be objective? Probably not! But my writing about Disney is already subjective. It would be whether they let me into their parks for free or not. It would definitely change, but since it’s something I already love, maybe not that much.
I also wish this world were ideal in the sense that, when people no longer believed in products, they would no longer promote them. But that isn’t the world we live in.
Do all these podcasters really use Squarespace? Or buy mattresses? Or order from Blue Apron? I doubt it (though Blue Apron is great in a pinch). But I’ve spent my entire life not getting mad about freaking 1-877-KARS4KIDS commercials, why am I gonna get mad about a 2 minute spot in a podcast?
Podcasts cost money to produce. The Saverocity Observation Deck runs at a loss every year because we don’t have ads. We’re okay with that (for now, at least. We’ve never even brought up the idea of looking for sponsors, for the record).
There is a podcast I really enjoy, and one day they were like: “We really enjoy making this podcast, but it’s becoming a bit of a burden. We’re looking for a sponsor, we’ll charge $20/month, the amount it costs to run this thing, e-mail us.”
The next episode they had two sponsors, and you know what, I don’t begrudge them at all for it. Some people won’t listen to podcasts that have ads, and that’s cool. But it’s possible they are missing out on a lot of good content just because they doesn’t feel like fast forwarding two minutes.
The internet has tricked us into thinking we can get all this information for free, but we can’t. And the information usually isn’t created for free, people are putting a lot of work into things. Every time one of Freequent Flyer’s tweets sends me to Wikipedia (though I should have remembered the Turing test), someone at that company had to put in work to make sure there is nothing egregiously wrong on the page. Gideon himself works off a subscription model, which I think is great – he has cut out the middleman and we pay him directly. He works for us! But everyone putting content on the internet has got to pay the bills somehow.
I guess my point is this. For me, personally, ads are annoying and can be offensive when they are particularly devious, but they have always been. Like since I was 5. Blogs and “new media” have just found a new way to make them annoying.
But just like I learned to go fix a snack or fast forward through commercials on TV, just like I learned to switch the station when 1-877-KARS4KIDS comes on (did you know it’s a 501c3 charity they don’t repeat it a million times in their spots at all no sir), there are ways to get around ads on the internet and in podcasts.
If you don’t like ads, install an ad blocker. But if you don’t mind them and you want to support sites like Saverocity and especially a guy like Matt who made a decision not to try to sell credit cards to you for personal gain; then let the ads stay and take that small annoyance as the “cost” of the great work Matt has done into creating the forum and our network.
(Aside: 80% of the ads I see when surfing around Saverocity are for Disney. Hmm.)
(Aside 2: Just inserted an ad into a post complaining about ads. The new meta.)
If you don’t like “influential promotions”, bloggers writing about stuff that in a way that is trying to sneakily sell you something – don’t read those blogs! Decide for yourself whether the good content outweighs the bad and then move on. Make your own “Blogs to Ignore” list and then enjoy all your new free time! Vote with your dollars and clicks, and don’t worry about the rest.
People have been selling snake oil since Biblical times. Just don’t buy it.