Product Placement in Syndication

I have always been a proponent of product placement. It doesn’t interrupt a show like commercials do, and if done tastefully, it serves to further ground the story in reality. What’s more real to you, a lead character drinking a Coke or a “Cola,” or a family a stopping for food at a Subway or “Sandwiches?” Real products make shows real, and they provide real money to the content creators who then either increase production or consider running fewer commercials.

The problem with product placement is that it’s not viable for syndication. Ford isn’t going to pay for your lead character to drive a car that’s four years out of date, and Subway isn’t going to pay for the camera to swing by a billboard for a sandwich they stopped making three years ago. What if the car and the billboard could be changed?

A company called Mirriad is seeking to do just that, and if the technology takes off like it rightfully should, we could be seeing a future filled with commercials replaced by a future of constantly updating product placement. We deserve a future with uninterrupted shows on regular TV, and content creators deserve to be compensation for their work’s on-air lifetime. Product placement with something like Mirriad’s technology could make both happen, and that’s pretty cool.

I Don’t Use Ad Blockers

No adblock 250I don’t use ad blockers, because there are some sites I rely on or enjoy reading, and those sites rely on ads to stay in business (servers are expensive, the staff needs to eat, etc). If they offer a paid option to remove ads, I pay it. If not, I want them to stay in business, so I don’t block their ads. With that said, there are plenty of “good” sites out there which are simply flooded with ads. I simply choose to not follow or frequently visit those. I can get my reading in elsewhere. For example, the news sites where and advertising sidebar (sometimes even multiple sidebars) take up the entire right half of the screen. I mean, how is that even a thing?! I just refuse to read anything on those sites, it’s distracting, and simply crazy.

There’s a lot to hate and a lot to love about advertising, and so many factors that have contributed to a rather rapid shift in the industry. In the early days, contextual advertising used to be the leader. Are you reading a post about camping? Great, here’s an ad for a campground in your area, or maybe you want to buy this tent from Amazon. Those were great times, as the ads kind of contributed something to the article, sort of a “related content” experience. It turns out, that doesn’t pay well anymore, at all, to the point where it may not even worth it. Simply put, advertisers are willing to pay good money for their ads to be seen, not to simply wait around for the chance that someone will write about a Fiat, Chromebook, or whatever product they’re selling. In a way, that’s nice because you could run one unrelated ad and make the same amount as you could with four contextual ads. I’m not saying I directly recommend one over the other, but one unrelated ad could make a site owner a lot more money than beating me senseless with contextual ads ever could.

There are lots of other ways to advertise now too, which is also contributing to a rapid price shift. Some site owners will go to where the money is, and some will go with whatever doesn’t inconvenience the reader. Site owners can make a killing off of interstitials (those “click here to continue to the article” ads), but those make me close the window and look for a similar article elsewhere. Others can still make a killing off of related affiliate links, like Uncrate. Others thrive off of sponsored content, like Quartz, where whole posts can be advertisements, but are easy to identify and therefore easy to ignore, or they actually could be well-written articles. Others have struggled with income from time to time, but do their best to stay afloat on a very minimal ad-to-content ratio, like The Verge.

In short, I don’t use ad blockers, as I value the sites I read which need ads to stay in business. In turn, I don’t bother to read sites which are insanely cluttered with ads. There are plenty of non-obtrusive ways to advertise. Sometimes that means you’ll make less money than if you had provided a Whac-A-Mole-like banner ad experience, but maybe it’s worth it? I don’t use ad blockers, but I don’t have to follow your site either.

This post was inspired by What’s Your Take on Advertising on Blogs? by WordPress.com support forum superstar, timethief.

(Disclaimer: To anyone who read this post, thank you. The words above are not necessarily indicative of the views of Automattic, WordPress.com, WordAds, or any of their affiliates. If you feel like quoting me for any reason, please know that this is simply my personal opinion. k thx bye)