I have a lot of complaints against advertisements in general, which I will not be discussing in this post. Instead, this post is dedicated to one of the biggest problems with web advertising: not being able to see the advertisement again.
Take YouTube as an example; if you visit a YouTube video, they apparently invoke some Pseudo-Random Number Generator to determine both whether to show an advertisement, whether it should be video versus popover, and whether it should bear any relation to the video.
Worse, though, is that you can’t replicate the PRNG; they don’t throw you the seed they use or anything. So if you start to watch a video, and decide later you actually want to click that advertisement, you can’t. If you stop watching a video advertisement a few seconds in, closing the window, but then process the snippet you saw and decide you want to watch it, you can’t.
This isn’t unique to YouTube. All over the web there’s different advertisements with each pageload, and you can’t get back to them. Some sites like Reddit are a little better in that they do have persistent addresses for at least some of the advertisements. But you still can’t see the advertisements you’ve seen.
You can’t share these advertisements. They’re like ghosts. They’re black ops. Appearing for a mere moment, just long enough to draw the knife blade across your throat. Okay, maybe that’s too dramatic. They’re more like insects that buzz up by your ear just long enough to make you wiggle a little.
“But!,” I hear the marketadvertbrandologists say, “Advertising is not about selling products, it’s about…” and there they go trying to sell advertising as being the equivalent to your grandmother’s cake or grandfather’s pie. That they want you to feel like a kid in a candystore when you think about your vitamin supplements, carrying around a brown paper sack and scooping the goodies into it.
The main thing is, even that excuse doesn’t work if people want to spread the advertising message. If Smith says, “Jones, did you see the really cool video advertisement for genetically modified hermit crabs?” Jones says, “No, I did not.” Smith says, “Well, that sucks, because I can’t give you a link to it.”
Just one more reason to dislike advertising.