I am going to start out with a disclosure: I hate advertisements with a bit of a passion. When I was growing up and we needed a new VCR (yeah, I’m old), one of the biggest selling points in our house was that it had a great feature called ‘commercial skip’. It could detect that black screen transition in the playback at the end of a commercial break and stop your fast forward. We also liked archiving our favorite TV shows and we had more than 400, 6 hour VHS tapes filled with Star Trek: TNG, The X-Files, and a few others, all with the commercials edited out by pausing the recording while we were watching them on their first run. I am starting out with this to give a little perspective on how I feel about ads in general. My objection to the commercials on television is rooted in the fact that we paid for the ability to watch satellite and later cable TV (we lived the rural life and there were no broadcast stations near us); it was a matter of principle.
So, with that rant over, I do not understand these people getting upset about a fifteen-second spot with a quick joke about a new movie coming put that day. I welcome the news and would have likely asked for more info including show times if I had used my Google Assistant that day. I have no issue when it comes to Google playing me a quick advertisement during my morning news (FYI: CNN and other news organizations with spots close their feeds with brief ads also). What I do have an issue with is when you pay for a service and are still inundated with advertisements at every turn.
Google, unlike other software developers, does not charge for the vast majority of their services of which there are many. You can search to your heart’s content without paying a dime. You can download their powerful Chrome web browser for free. Google Docs, Gmail, Maps, Drive, and many others a provided at no cost. YouTube, the most popular video sharing and streaming service is supported by ads, as is Google Music (unless you pay a fee). A vast majority of cell phone users have Android smartphones that are regularly updated free of charge; they don’t even charge for the initial copy of the Android OS.
So the Google assistant that you didn’t pay anything for running on an OS that you paid nothing for just gave you information about your day; weather, commute times, appointments, and the news. In short, these people feel as if they should not have to pay for the services they are using.
For a company to remain competitive and continue to offer high-quality products, they need to generate revenue. For a company like Google (and its parent company Alphabet) that means selling ads. Google has never been as in your face as some other companies like Microsoft who have begun placing ads for companies like Shell Gasoline on the home screen of the Xbox One. Their advertising has always strived to match with whatever you are now, or have recently searched for. This is good business.
Some of the people complaining about the fifteen-second spot for the new ‘Beauty and the Beast’ live action movie are complaining because they have no interest in the movie, have no desire to see it, and have certainly not done any searches for it. I ask them, have you ever expressed any interest in any movie online? Searched for a showtime or a review? There are any number of things that can cause an algorithm designed to determine what your interest are and what things you might missing out on that could improve your day.
I am going to leave you with this. There is no such thing as a free lunch; if you are going to use a free online service, and don’t want a monetary service fee involved, prepare to watch, read, or listen to a few ads here and there. Today’s society has an extremely entitled outlook on many things and as we continue to move forward into the world of service-based Internet products, we all need to decide if we want the occasional ad placed before us or pay a monthly fee. For the record, we pay Google $14.99 for an ad-free Google Play Family account that covers both Play Music and YouTube Red, it is worth every penny.