I grew up in a family of 10 people, living in a house so small that it only had one bathroom (we were a boisterous and happy family). I loved to read. I learned to shut out almost every kind of chaos and this served me well in college with 500 women in one dorm all playing rock and roll music. It also made it possible to avoid hearing the summons to do dishes which I quickly learned was an unacceptable use of chaos-blocking.
But, these days the internet is becoming a pest when it comes to advertising. First we had just static box or banner ads. Then we had pop ups which were so objectionable that they had a relatively short life. Then we had the ads that distracted us with repetitive motion – things like stomachs shrinking and bloating or Oprah crying. Repetitive motion ads made shutting out extraneous “noise” more difficult even for a reader trained on the large family battlefield. Sometime I caught myself looking because only looking freed me to not look again.
Soon sites started to copy Facebook by posting ads keyed to product searches I had made on the internet or things I had ordered on the internet. Again, I looked, but only on bad days when my brain was unfocused already. After that I had to try to read articles with video running next to them. I turned off my sound but these videos flickered around the edges of my consciousness and I found them even more distracting than the other assaults on my senses that marketers had tried so far.
Now internet marketers have come up with the next new thing and this one may prove totally beyond my well-rehearsed abilities of concentration. The newest thing is advertising videos that follow your eyes along the page as you read and obliterate the text you were focused on. Even if you ignore the content of the ad the strand of your attention has been broken. You must now scroll to find where the text picks up. And when you get there that same annoying ad scoots into view and says “I’m back”. By then I am deciding that I will have to give up on one of my go-to sources (Daily Beast).
We all realize online news sites have employees and it costs money to publish even without paper, but this ‘moving video’ ad is invasive and, clearly, proves that the computer (or a computer operator) can follow our eyes movements as we read. I never like it when I think someone is watching my every move even if it is just an algorithm trained to follow my eye movements. Have I been judged a slow reader? Is someone keeping track of the kinds of material I like to read? Well we already guessed that this was at least possible, however uninteresting our reading habits might be. These ‘creepy crawlers’ prove that marketers have gone at least one advertising ploy too far. It is a bit better behind the pay wall, although even really reputable sources use that header that expands to run a quick video just to catch you before you really start to read. I’m sure we all hope that advertisers will ditch the creepy crawlers, please.
By Nancy Brisson