Jonathan Spiliotopoulos, one of my O’Brien Communications Group partners, a friend, and an estimable thinker, wrote this note to me one day after he’d read a blog post in which the author was beefing about web-based ad blockers:

Companies complain about the devastating effect ad-blocking technology is having on their revenue streams. They have a point … to a point. Blocking ads does break the traditional covenant in which users gained access to content in exchange for exposure to advertising. But the complainants fail to acknowledge that the terms of that covenant have changed. In traditional media, ads are purchased for their potential to send specific messages to specific audiences. Our job, as consumers of content, is simply to be exposed to the advertising. But ads on websites are not about content. They’re about data-mining. Data-mining is not advertising. It’s not about informing. It’s the mad science of collecting audiences to present to pitches. It adopts the word, ad, and abuses the covenant. This is not communication, it’s mental and statistical manipulation.

His comments cause me to wonder: To determine what our prospects really want — to circumvent the indirect confusion of web advertising, broken covenants, data mining, crowdtapping, brand-influence metrics, and content so voluminous we may actually succeed in pushing the Internet to its exhaustible capacity — why wouldn’t we just talk to them?

Since we’re all so technically sophisticated, the odds of our having some manner of phone at our disposal are very much in our favor. And given the fact that most people would rather be told a compelling story than sold a bill of goods, we just might make a meaningful connection, to say nothing of gaining a customer.

Isn’t that the point?

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