We're bombarded by thousands of advertising messages every day -- not just via traditional and digital media, but by all sorts of out-of-home vehicles ranging from the old standby -- billboards -- to logos on clothing and tattooed on people.
Even I, who would routinely complain to the manager of a movie theater that showed commercials before the tra8ilers and the film, have grudgingly given up and quietly sit through the pre-movie ads, even after paying $10 for the privilege.
But here's something new that I know is going to get me riled the first time I am subjected to it -- ads while you're waiting on Hold. Give me a break... please!
Wednesday's Wall Street Journal tells the story. Callers to customer service, while waiting for the next available representative, are seen as a huge captive audience. More than 320 million calls a month and growing, says one of the companies that sells ads for play to on-hold callers.
The article says the company claims customers are particularly "susceptible" to marketing pitches while they're on hold "because they are attentively waiting for someone to arrive on the other end of the line." They know, though, that they need to be careful in choice of ads and length of ads, or "there is a danger of riling customers - or potential customers - by blitzing them with ads."
I can see this being acceptable in some situations. If I'm calling a radio station, for example, I can see hearing entertainment-related ads while waiting, or even ads for companies that advertise on the station's airwaves. Playing ads, after all, is a radio station's business.
But if I'm calling to order a product or to get help with a problem, the last thing I'll want while waiting is to have ads thrown at me. I can understand promos for products of the company I'm calling, but if I'm calling for help with my new Dell computer, I'll be damned if I want to hear an ad for Coke or Mazda or a credit card while I'm on hold.
I'll take Muzak. And unlike the company that says we're attentively waiting, many callers put on hold are actually doing other things while waiting. I often put the call onto speaker phone, so I can do other work while waiting, until I hear the customer rep pick up. But if ads are being thrown at me, it's hard to focus on other things.
I see it as a huge intrusion on my time. And then I'll wonder, am I being put on hold an extra few minutes so the company can sell my time to advertisers? Or what if a service rep is ready for me, but "hold" still has 20 seconds left in an ad that's playing? Will I have to wait, unnecessarily, for those extra 20 seconds until the ad is finished?
I don't like this idea one bit. I'd like to see it be put on hold.