The ad column - There's danger as well as profit in push technology.

Ads get everywhere these days: from takeaway food lids to supermarket floors via cows in fields outside Milton Keynes. It can all prove a bit much at times.

The only place you can escape from this cacophony of commercial messages is your own sweet home. Shut the door behind you, leap over the mountain of direct mailshots in your porch, keep the TV off and the newspapers and magazines shut, switch on your computer and dive into a haven of ad-free make believe. As long as you stay clear of the world wide web, and only open E-mail from personal friends, you'll be safe. Won't you?

Not necessarily. Push technology, the system that allows pioneering companies such as Pointcast to deliver news to your desktop, is the preserve of the advertiser, too. And, with Microsoft incorporating push into its new browser, Internet Explorer 4 - which will, itself, be built into the next version of Windows - everyone who buys a new PC will soon be in the firing line. The PC desktop, it seems, is destined to become a formidable advertising medium.

But it will also be a medium upon which advertisers must tread carefully.

Many internet users already find ads on the web intrusive. So is using this latest innovation not the ultimate risk strategy from an advertiser's point of view? Is it not, potentially, the final insult to the end user?

Not really. Just as you can watch BBC1 or BBC2 if you don't want ads on your TV, you have to "subscribe" to these push channels before you are bombarded with their wares. In theory, therefore, the information you receive - from new record release dates to make-up tips - will be relevant, even useful. And if it isn't, you just stop subscribing.

For marketers, there's the rub. What might sound like a dream targeting device is only that if the targetee, as it were, is genuinely engaged by the content with which they are targeted. Otherwise, it'll just feel like what it is - an ad. And we all know we don't want ads on our personal computers.



John Owen is the editor of Campaign Interactive.

Ads get everywhere these days: from takeaway food lids to supermarket floors via cows in fields outside Milton Keynes. It can all prove a bit much at times.

The only place you can escape from this cacophony of commercial messages is your own sweet home. Shut the door behind you, leap over the mountain of direct mailshots in your porch, keep the TV off and the newspapers and magazines shut, switch on your computer and dive into a haven of ad-free make believe. As long as you stay clear of the world wide web, and only open E-mail from personal friends, you'll be safe. Won't you?

Not necessarily. Push technology, the system that allows pioneering companies such as Pointcast to deliver news to your desktop, is the preserve of the advertiser, too. And, with Microsoft incorporating push into its new browser, Internet Explorer 4 - which will, itself, be built into the next version of Windows - everyone who buys a new PC will soon be in the firing line. The PC desktop, it seems, is destined to become a formidable advertising medium.

But it will also be a medium upon which advertisers must tread carefully.

Many internet users already find ads on the web intrusive. So is using this latest innovation not the ultimate risk strategy from an advertiser's point of view? Is it not, potentially, the final insult to the end user?

Not really. Just as you can watch BBC1 or BBC2 if you don't want ads on your TV, you have to "subscribe" to these push channels before you are bombarded with their wares. In theory, therefore, the information you receive - from new record release dates to make-up tips - will be relevant, even useful. And if it isn't, you just stop subscribing.

For marketers, there's the rub. What might sound like a dream targeting device is only that if the targetee, as it were, is genuinely engaged by the content with which they are targeted. Otherwise, it'll just feel like what it is - an ad. And we all know we don't want ads on our personal computers.



John Owen is the editor of Campaign Interactive.



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