Each and every day, I am forced to sort through several hundred incoming e-mails to find the few that are the “real” ones that I actually wish to read. The rest are various promotions or attempts to introduce viruses or malware into my computer. Many pretend to come from reputable retailers or banks but they are devious attempts to get me to click on an attachment. Since there is no way to be sure, even the legitimate ones end up being deleted.
Over the last few years most technical publications (that used to be supported by advertising) have gone out of business -- or are attempting to stay alive on the Internet. Apparently, the marketing departments of the companies that previously advertised in print have decided that they can save money by simply having an electronic presence. And to some extent that is working. If I know what product I want, it is easy to “get on-line” and do a quick search. We have all become quite adept at doing that. Not so many years ago who would have imagined that we can type in the part number of an electronic component and without further description get a listing of sources for that very component? For me, that is still in the amazing category.
However, it seems that danger lurks everywhere. A search for something as simple as “United Airlines” brings up a variety of sites that can easily be confused with the intended search target but which hope to misdirect me to other promotional efforts to sell travel packages or other services. It takes great care to not accidentally click on one of these sites that often have an Internet address that is remarkably close and hard to distinguish from the one we are really trying to visit.
The Internet has become a very dangerous place. Our computers are continually at risk and we have to be extra diligent to not have something bad happen. So what does this mean for Internet advertising? It doesn’t work and can’t work. Even if it’s a company we know well, we have to be careful. If it’s a known retailer such as Amazon or Macys, there is no assurance that the e-mail is really from them at all. In fact, most of the time it is not. Every other commonly known retailer, fast food restaurant, or other well-known name is similarly used by those wishing to take over our computers for nefarious purposes. Thus, for all practical purposes the Internet has become useless as an advertising medium. Are there still enough victims out there for these efforts at thievery to continue? Apparently there are.
I used to rely on technical publications to teach me about new products and recent advancements. Those days are gone. The Internet is just too clumsy for quick overviews of what is new and interesting. But then I suppose when we spend our entire days staring at our cell phones, who among us has the time to read a printed publication?
We seem to be in a period of rapid transition and instability. The Internet is providing us with new capabilities while at the same time bringing new threats. Our traditional social structure is in upheaval as a result of smart phones and “apps”. Many of these changes appear to be in a good direction but -- will we be able to manage the ever-present dangers? It may be that technology has outrun our ability to absorb these new capabilities and put them to use in a way that is safe and stable for the longer term. It may not be good for business but a bit of a slowdown and attention to optimizing what we already have may not be such a bad approach.
Should you wish to comment on these ideas or others, you may reach me directly from this site, or by telephone at 425-898-9117.