The one and only reason I stopped paying for Hulu+ is that I was paying $8 a month for a service that was still showing me ads. (Then, I turned around and paid for the commercial-free version a few years later. Totally worth it!)
Every other app and online service I can get offers the option to go ad free if I pay a monthly fee. So I quit paying for Hulu+ because it wasn’t worth the $96 per year to see ads I would see if I was on the free service.
“But you get to see shows that are older than five weeks!” Hulu fans say.
Or, I could just watch them before the five weeks is up. Or catch them on Netflix, which is ad free.
We’re Sick of Being Shouted At
Given that many of us are trying to escape the bombardment of advertising and marketing messages, it can sometimes be a small price to pay for just a brief respite of BUY THIS! BUY THIS! BUY THIS! messages every time we interact with the outside world.
Here’s what annoys me about marketing and my fellow marketers:
- I pay for cable TV, and yet I’m still seeing advertisements. I am, in essence, paying someone to show me ads. These same advertisers whine and complain because people like me DVR shows and fast forward through ads.
- Clothing companies sell t-shirts with their giant logo silk screened on the front, making me a walking billboard. It costs me $20 – $30 to be a walking shill for their company.
- Car dealers who I just gave thousands of dollars to now want to put a sticker or license plate frame on my new car so I can tell everyone where I got it. That’s not there for my benefit. That’s free advertising to the person driving behind me.
Since when am I required to be an advertisement, and when do I do it because I truly like the product, and want to evangelize on their behalf? And why do brands presume I want to pay money so I can promote their product?
I don’t see why I have to pay for the “privilege” of advertising for a company, or pay to be advertised to. It’s my prerogative to escape advertising, and it’s my prerogative to not shill for a company when all I wanted was a t-shirt. I’m the one doing them a favor by telling people who trust me that I endorse that product.
So here’s what I’m going to start doing:
I am going to purposely avoid as much advertising as I can. I understand that I can’t escape it completely, and I’m not going to try. But here’s what I will do:
- I will record all TV shows and fast forward through all commercials. The one exception is the Super Bowl.
- I will never wear a shirt that has a company brand name or logo on it, unless it’s one I support. For example, a conference t-shirt or a shirt for the Cincinnati Reds or Indianapolis Colts.
- I will never allow a sticker or license plate from to be placed on a new car I purchase. (In fact, I did this already on the last car I bought. They asked if they could, and I said I would if they gave me $1,000. They said they couldn’t go any lower on the price, and I said, “No, I mean you can give me a check for $1,000.” They said no, so I did too.)
- I will avoid buying magazines filled with advertisements. If I do, I will purposely skip over the ads. When a lot of magazines are more ads than articles — looking at you, GQ — why should I pay for something I can find online?
- I will pay for the ad free version of an app or product if I believe in and support it or the company. If I don’t, it means I am willing to pay the small price of being marketed to.
In short, my time, my mental bandwidth, and my careful consideration are mine to give. They are not yours to take.
Don’t assume that I want to be advertised to. Just know that if I need your product, I’ll seek you out. If I need your service, I’ll Google you.
But — and here’s my concession — I will happily look at your ad or your short infomercial, up to 30 minutes in length, for $50. You give me $50, and I will watch, read, or listen to whatever you want. $50 gets you 30 minutes of my time, and no more. It doesn’t guarantee I’ll buy your product or tell other people about it. For that, you have to impress me.
Is it fair? Am I being unreasonable? I don’t think so. Too many marketers try to take our time and attention away from something else. They try to insert themselves everywhere and into everything, trying to find that place we go to escape them, so they can take that away from us as well.
So I’m willing to meet them halfway. Instead of going to all that time and trouble to reaching me in the place I don’t want to be reached, just pay what you would have paid anyway. I will gladly sit down, review all your materials, and then we will go our separate ways.
You’ve been trying to spend all that time and energy to get me to watch your commercials (I fast forward through them), your magazine ads (I flip past them), your billboards (I keep my eyes on the road), your radio commercials (I listen to public radio or change stations), and your direct mail (I recycle it before it ever makes it into the house).
Let’s take all that money you spent and guarantee that it has been read, seen, heard, and considered. Compensate me for paying attention to you, rather than wasting money trying to trick me.