When you fill up your car, there’s often a tv monitor at the pump with ads on it now. Elevators have monitors in them with ads. Any of the interstices of life where you’re stuck somewhere for a minute, someone is trying to get an ad in there. Ted Turner likes the gas pump ads and he likes the idea of supermarket line ads too; can’t get away there.
Blame Chris Whittle. In the 80s, he saw the power of imprisonment. He invented a whole set of publications that were available for free to doctors’ offices, hair salons, car repair joints, anywhere people were stuck. The only condition of receiving these magazines was that you had no others available; his was a jealous God. Later, he invented Channel One, the free news television provided to schools only if they forced all the students to watch it, including all the ads.
Channel One still exists, although Whittle Publication is gone. But everywhere there’s an ad. TiVo recently began putting ads on when you hit fast forward or reverse. A couple of years ago someone patented the idea of putting ads in the tone you hear when calling someone and their phone is ringing. The next natural step there, of course, would be making the ad happen if they were ready to answer the phone, or charging you for ad-free phones.
What’s next? Seriously, where do you think the ads will go next? Someplace you can’t avoid it…