Recently, I've seen some very encouraging ads for online writers, from U.S. companies that want to work directly with U.S. writers and pay decent wages...for motorist blogs and zines. Since they've all specified "car/truck/racing enthusiast, with degree" they obviously were looking for someone different from me, but for someone Out There, these might be excellent jobs. The way to advertise motor vehicles to Americans, in this post-Advertising Age, is to pay Americans to write honest blog posts about being motorists. Yes. This is a good trend.
Now, suppose these companies want to indulge in a little A/B testing with ads that carry the "negative reaction lingers in memory" idea to the next level. They can use the Internet to be so much more annoying than a screaming TV commercial people can simply mute, these days. They start e-stalking an Internet reader like you, let's call him Joe Jones, with a steady stream of "ads" that Joe Jones absolutely hates--maybe the images aren't even cars, but are gross-outs, and the words consist of things like "Joe Jones is a jerk, Joe Jones is an idiot, nobody likes Joe Jones," etc. etc. ad nauseam. They succeed in turning Joe Jones against his favorite sports-related web sites. Will they succeed in persuading Joe Jones to buy, let's call it a Yuckmobile truck?
What if, before Joe Jones starts thinking about his next truck, at all, the ads succeed in making him so angry that he starts driving recklessly and ploughs into a school bus full of children?
What if they raise his blood pressure to the point where he has a heart attack, and since he's only thirty-five years old and hasn't even started worrying about that possibility, he doesn't go to the hospital in time and dies?
What if the nagging sense that nobody likes him causes him to talk to a psychologist, who complies with insurance regulations by getting him a prescription for antidepressants, and he's one of those people who react to antidepressants by becoming violently insane, and he runs into the nearest "gun-free zone" with his pockets full of bullets and shoots forty-nine other people before killing his now crazy self?
The position of this web site is that we should all think long and think hard before tolerating any kind of annoying ad--even if it annoys people only by putting the cute picture in the wrong place, or by hogging memory and causing the content people want to see to load slowly...