One of the things I'm usually very proud of is how I collect, catalog, and process information in my personal knowledge system. Ironically, somehow I've managed to completely miss the source (& author) of a fascinating statement I've come by recently:

"Advertising destroys everything it touches. Twists, defiles, cripples, and leaves leftovers that do not resemble the original."

If you think about it for a moment - there are so many examples to illustrate the veracity of these words:

  1. the author (one I can't recall) mentioned e-mail (TRUE) and Usenet discussion groups who have succumbed into void precisely because of spam (caused by the imbecile advertising)
  2. traditional mail is also pretty much dead already - the vast majority of what you can find in your mailbox is just trashy leaflets that end up in a trashcan without looking
  3. the spaces we live in - peppered (wherever possible) with flashy signs and advertising billboards
  4. WWW is barely usable without adblockers (I use three (!) in parallel, to eliminate as many distractions as possible)
  5. I stopped going to the cinema because I felt like an idiot, wasting 30+ minutes on bloody ads before the movie even starts

And what's the worst - the advertising-powered marketing has killed the objective truth. Yeah, I realize it may sound odd, but it's nothing else than the effect of the broken window.

Everyone's bullshitting, so no-one can afford not bullshitting.

Facts are of secondary importance; what really matters is bold statements expressed with complete confidence, especially if they are so imprecise and ambiguous that they can't be proven false on the spot. Today's rule number one: play bold or don't play at all.

OK, enough whining - is there any valuable lesson to be learned?

TBH I think there's more than one:

  1. When you develop a new product, and your monetization strategy has recently degraded to ads, your product is pretty much done already (there's still a lot to gain financially, but ads will eventually make it so pitiful that people will hate it).
  2. The only way to approach advertising in any domain you care for (or enjoy at least partially) is ZERO TOLERANCE. Not caring is a very short-sighted strategy. Even with hard proof that advertising doesn't work (e.g., due to the law of diminishing returns), for many companies, it still makes sense to push through as many ads as possible, just to limit the visibility of their competition.

Ads are like cancer that has to be eliminated - the sooner the better. If unattended, they spread like fire. And in the end, they are beneficial to exactly NOONE and they inevitably kill their host.

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