An interesting thing has happened with the internet: it’s become the first medium to be run by marketing. Sure, commercial interests have always been prominent in print publishing, TV or radio. Only media which we paid for directly (books, public broadcasting, etc) gave us respite from advertising. But when it comes to the online world, marketing has really got its foot in the door. You don’t get to watch twenty minutes before the ad break any longer: it’s in your face from the beginning.
It’s possible that we may kill the goose that lays the golden egg. But I doubt it. People accept that there’s a price to be paid for everything, and if it’s their time (being forced to see an ad) rather than their money, so be it. They’ll probably have a choice.
What we need to be careful of will be the increasingly sophisticated ways they’ll develop for avoiding our messages. The best way to circumvent this will be to ensure that our messages are useful, and not irritating. That’s why simple search marketing has worked so well, and why I hope the likes of Google can resist the lure of jazzing it up with images and video. The signs aren’t good though.