Marketers these days love to throw this phrase around: if advertising is targeted enough, it becomes “useful information” instead of advertising. That’s selfish bullshit trying to give an ethical justification to the fact that they are basically being jerks.

Guess what? There exists something called “search”. The only relevant kind of advertising are search results. Interruptive ads, no matter how well targeted, are not relevant enough. Put in other words, your so-called targeting can NOT be sufficient if it does not include the intent of the user at THAT moment.

Be accessible when I search. But don’t come shout in my face screaming about your product when I am trying to do something else. If I need to know about you, I’ll look you up. Just think of it as basic courtesy and etiquette in a public place. If search is available and works well, we users don’t really need interruptive ads.

A rather nice consequence of this would be that marketers won’t need to collect data about me and build huge behavioral profiles. I’ll come to you when I need you. And when I knock on your door, you would be certain that I am interested in talking to you.

I don’t really mean that interruptive ads are immoral. I just mean that they are rude. The above argument is not really to persuade the marketers, but to convince the users that the justification for “interruptive ads are okay because they are targeted” is not strong enough and all else being equal, “no ads” is better than “targeted ads”.