Monday, November 26, 2012

Ads and the web sites that love them

I had a plan to write something concerning ads on sites I frequent. That set of notes has just been eclipsed by an experience so bizarre that is has taken precedence and urgency.

Full Disclosure: I HATE ADS. I hate them with the fire of all that is hated (hate hate hate).

In a digital age, as the world moves toward a different delivery method for a large number of goods and services, I find ads less and less relevant to the way I shop and, especially, how I find the things I am looking for. Certainly I get annoyed when I see ads in the sidebar of a website I am viewing, but I am less annoyed --and more likely to view-- ads in this manner than I am the ones that pop up over what I am trying to see.

Retailers, I get that you think this is still a good way to do things. Let me be clear. YOU ARE WRONG. If you flash your ad in front of me while I am trying to read, I am less likely to buy your product unless it is something I already need. The ad did you no benefit. Also, if your ad is one of these new ones that can't be stopped, moved or closed then I hate you with an unholy fervor. In this last case, I am most likely to add you to a little list I have started of products I will never consider. Read that again. I WILL NEVER CONSIDER THEM.

I'm not sure when advertisers felt it was acceptable to hijack the focus of an individual perusing a website, but it is not OK.

Site owners, if you use these ads on your site, you are being added to a growing list of places I don't frequent and links that I will not open. I hope it was worth it. I truly hope you continue to do business and learn from your mistakes. If not, no big, I'll go on my merry way to a competitor. My money spends.

Now on to the reason I started this post. I have just been subjected to the most baffling advertisement method seen thus far. A video popped up on the page I had just opened to read a news story. It was not close-able other than shutting down my browser and all tabs. There was no way to pause the video, despite there being an obvious pause button. Now, here I will tell you that I am familiar with testing practices. I finally arrived at a point where I could close the page. I did so. Please note that my initial desire was to read something on the site. No more. I went back to the legitimate page I had arrived at this level of hell from.

I clicked the link again. My thinking here was that something on the offending page was malfunctioning. It was not to be. I have saved off the offending page to further examine this willful attack on my time. I have also added the underlying page to a new list of sites that I will not go to and that also disappoint me. Hey, leave me alone, these are my list titles!

All of that aside, I hope the salient point taken from this is that there is a good way to get my attention as well as my money. I don't mind seeing ads when they don't affect my browsing. I don't even mind the ads prior to videos I want to see on video sites. In many of these scenarios, there are ways for me to skip or bypass. While I don't see any benefit to pushing ads in my face at all opportunities, I do understand the insecurity behind a company or a site owner doing it.

Content Creators: Find a better, less-invasive way to do this and people will give you all the money. Do it in such a way where you empower them to look at leisure and they will buy what you are selling. Failure to make it seamless will affect your product campaign. Something to keep in mind.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

A growing service industry problem

Not that long ago I posted two separate stories concerning unhelpfulness and bullying. Today I read a story that brought both together. 

I think this the perfect time to revisit these two subjects in one post. Please keep in mind as you read this that these are my thoughts on the subject as they currently stand.

Yesterday an amateur blogger and foodie, much like myself, was targeted and abused by chefs and self-important people. Let me say that again in case you didn't get the point. A CUTOMER was abused verbally online by SERVICE INDUSTRY PEOPLE. Service being the effective word here.

My anger has grown from the fact that this type of behavior has become systemic. It was once only reserved stereotypically for women trying to get automotive service or men trying to pick out proper gifts for wives, girlfriends or even Mom. The point is, it was not unheard of. It was, however, restricted to those locations where it was either not noticed or easily handled. Let me be clear again, I DO NOT like stereotypes. I also DON'T like bullies. Some of my best friends are female automotive enthusiasts and male perfumists. Yes, I actually know more than one. I also include both sexes as chefs in my listing of known acquaintances.

Now to the backstory. James Isherwood strikes me as an everyman with a love of food. He has a blog  where he discusses his experiences. More importantly, he is entitled to his opinion. A listing of supposed superstars in cooking have taken issue with a review he made of Hibiscus in London. Here I must admit that the review appeared to me to be open and honest. He described the one plate that didn't satisfy and some behaviors that were strange and extreme. The post was not, in any way I could see, an attack on either the chef or the establishment. It seems the Chef begged to differ.

In what can only be described as an all out attack, Mr Isherwood was bullied on twitter by at least eight different chefs. I am not including food reviewers or what I would categorize as hangers-on. The scene only succeeded in showing that self-important people don't accept even the slightest criticism. As I stated earlier, I have friends in the food industry. I hold them to a high standard of behavior and ability, and they have never let me down. They have taken and given criticism and have always acted with the gravity that I have come to expect from them. That said, everyone has a bad day.

Even with the previous statement, I stand in awe of the childish behavior being shown by these people. I've made a list of the names seen in this debacle and I list them here for your perusal and comment. Please agree, disagree or rant as you like on the list I have made:

Jim Lawson
Claude Bosi
Tom Kerridge
Sat Bains
Adrian Margots
Tristan Welch
David Anderson
Jon Mahoney

The above were all of the people I gleaned from the twitter conversations with James. Below are restaurants they are involved with that I know of.

Hand and Flowers
Restaurant Sat Bains
Margot's Padstow
Launceston Place

Once again, I am not advocating not eating at these establishments, nor do I think you need to feel any certain way about their behavior or reasoning for their statements. I just want to make a full accounting of what I have seen.

What I can tell you is that I will have serious reservations eating at an establishment that these folks work at.

Something seen from the person attacked:

Sorry if anyone witnessed the whole saga.... Just one of those things. I'm still learning about this business...none of us are faultless.

I've seen nothing similar from any of the above attackers, just a lot of deleted tweets.

Hit me in the comments. I can take it.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Overholidayification(yes, I made it up)

 or How I grew to loath the run up to the holiday season

I include Valentine's Day and any other day that has marketability in this title, but the big ones at the end of the year are the target of my ire at the moment. First, let me be clear. I LOVE Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I would love them even more if the musical artists, stores and any other venue that can make a buck from the season would just SHUT and let me. No! I don't want to hear Christmas music before Halloween. No! I don't even want to hear it before Thanksgiving, and I would REALLY appreciate not hearing it until a bit closer to the time. YES, dear sweet musician, I AM excited that you sang the same old Christmas music in new and exciting ways for you new album, but please listen to this: I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT UNTIL IT IS RELEVANT!!!! *pant* *pant* *smile*

Stores, you don't get off so easy. I can turn the radio off or listen to my mp3 player. I can NOT avoid your holiday exhibits of 'things-that-never-happen-at-my-house-or-any-other-I-have-ever-seen-or-heard-of' as I attempt to find and purchase my essential items. Grocery stores, I'm looking at you too. If I buy it now, then I will have to cook it well before even Thanksgiving. Please, hold on to it until I need it. THEN you can advertise it until I hate it.

Clothing stores and websites, if you show me one more Christmas themed article of clothing I couldn't care less about, I swear, I will sew my own clothing from now on out of Chuck Wendig's beard clippings while living in a cave I dug myself with the remains of your server or window hangers.

In summary, if you are one of those entities that absolutely MUST start advertising your black friday sales or dresses your windows before I have even decided on my Halloween outfit, OR begin playing carols and hanging holly.... Then I  hate you with a loathing that borderd on the psychotic. YOU are what is making me hate the holiday, and I can guarrantee that the hatred I begin freeling for my favorite time of year only pales in comparison to the hatred I feel for those creating that situation. Please consider this into your plans as you go about making others as insane or more so than I.

If you are one of those people who puts up decorations the day of or the day after Thanksgiving, then I love you. I have to, you are my family. At least you waited until it was more appropriate.

Everybody else, do yourself and your friends a favor. No matter how much you love the season and want to share it with others, please DON'T. You create more monsters than you could ever cast out in normally pleasant and proper citizens. The zombie apocalypse needs to be put off as long as possible. DO YOUR PART!

~Nearly-zombie JFo

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Art of the Bully

The fight against bullying is at an all-time high right now. I'm glad to see this in some ways, but I think we are missing some important aspects of bullying as we seek to address the most hurtful aspects. The three areas I think impact the bullying education of kids, and thus adults, are television, movies and any news outlet to include magazines, papers and shows.

Bullying pervades nearly every aspect of our lives. We fail to see many of these variants as bullying. That needs to change so that we can better understand the vectors kids learn bullying. I hate television. The only uses I have for the physical box is as a video game monitor, a computer monitor and a movie screen. I no longer watch daytime or primetime television, and I absolutely refuse to watch the news. Our shows depict bullying in so many ways, I would find it hard to describe them all in a pitiful blog post. A random smattering of topics include: behavior and attitudes toward women, interaction between adults and children, interactions between children and the manner in which children achieve their goals and desires. I know it is a woefully inadequate listing, but these are the major ones I take issue with. We'll start from the beginning.

  •     Behavior and attitudes toward women: Anyone who has ever really known me knows that I appreciate women. I was raised in the south where Mama is king of her house, and for good reason. Any southerner will tell you. Mama feeds them, fixes them when they are broken, praises them in their endeavors, commiserates with them in loss and celebrates  success. There is no greater supporter than a Mama. Mama also provides the first example of hard work and a value system to a little guy or gal. A Father provides some of these as well, but let's face it, Nobody loves you at the same level as Mama. Why then do we have such poor examples in our shows? Why do writers and producers feel it is ok to treat women so badly on the screen? In fairness, I have seen some very strong female characters in movies and shows, but it is a new development. we cannot forget the bad behavior of the past in explaining the crisis we are seeing now. Children learn behavior early in their development. Television and movies have a major impact on that.

  •     Interaction between adults and children: Anyone who has watched the news in recent times will have seen all of the mind-blowing coverage of Teachers taking advantage of school-age children. My opinion on this is clear, it is a breach of trust and a misuse of power. Sure, I remember having crushes on several of my teachers as a kid. I think that is a healthy part of learning emotion in those years. I think it would have done immeasurable damage to my growth as a person if one of my teachers had been 'available' to me at that time. This is further exacerbated by television shows and movies. Behavior between adults and kids in some of these raises my eyebrows often. I know there is supposed to be a thin veil of truth in fiction, but I wonder if these aren't providing more of a learning experience than they should be. In this case, I mean a learning experience ofr both adults AND kids. By watching it on a screen, I think these two parties might begin to think it is accepted behavior when it is not.

  •      Interactions between children and the manner in which children achieve their goals and desires: This is a mouthful, but I couldn't think of a better way to describe it. This is a gordian knot. I have seen so many examples of manipulation, sabotage and flat our skullduggery, and that was just on the Disney Channel. I have seen shows in which children manipulate other kids into giving them money, sweets or possessions. I no longer wonder at the growth of the con in this age. There have been movies entirely based on the elaborate scheme hatched by some enterprising child to achieve a very minimal result. I won't name it, I'm still in awe of it. Any production in which one person manipulates another for their own gain is a potential classroom for the children who watch it. It doesn't even matter if the players are children themselves.

I have seen so many anti-bullying ads and sites in the last few months and years. The sentiment is well-founded, but I will leave you with this observation: Do you and your kids watch campaign ads during an election year? You have been given front row seats to a class on lying, bullying and manipulation. If you don't believe that, then the propaganda is working.