We live in a consumer world where we are constantly bombarded by offers to buy products and services. The internet hasn’t made things any easier because it puts things in front of us even when we aren’t looking for anything. Get on just about any internet web site and you will soon see that being bombarded by commercials for products or services is the price you pay for access to free content.
My entire success at the Weekly Mailer is based on businesses wanting to reach my audience of consumers who regularly read our publication. We look at the advertisements in the paper as if they are just as important as the news stories we publish. Without this monetary support from advertisers, we wouldn’t exist. People who read the Weekly Mailer know that having local ads is what we do to send them a free paper plus they want to see what merchants are selling.
Logging in to the internet bombards your screen with advertising offers. Simple search words on your computer contain algorithms that help you find what you are looking for, which can be helpful, but they also include programming that advertisers use to splash their product messages onto your computer screen. If you do an internet search for cowboy boots you will quickly see that there are advertising pop-ups that blend into the content of your search. The more popular the product the more internet ads you are bombarded with.
A recent computer search to see the obituary for the father of one of childhood friends helped me find the content I was looking for, but it also slammed me with messages for ordering flowers, offers for pre-need funeral plans and I think there was even a link to lodging in the town where the funeral was being held.
This custom programing can make our lives easier by linking us to products and services that might be on our minds, but that is not always a good thing. I tend to be an ad reader, especially when I’m looking at a printed publication. When I get my Ace Hardware ad in the Weekly Mailer each month I immediately begin looking through it. If I am at my office I grab a felt tip marker and I begin to circle products that I want to buy.
Because we have rental property and I do most of all my own repairs, I am always looking for a tool that would help me in a future repair. The challenge I run into is that things that are nice to have but aren’t needed today tend to be put into a tote and they are quickly forgotten about. More than once I have had to buy something again because I can’t find the first one I bought. Another challenge for me is that some tools are just nice to have several on hand. Clamps, utility knives, flashlights, paint brushes and tie-down straps are all in that category. How could a guy have too many?
One relatively recent experience for me has been shopping online at internet auction sites. Here I am exposed to a lot of great random stuff that I absolutely want but do not need. Several weeks ago I logged into one auction site and began scrolling through pages and pages of random products that I didn’t need. Before I knew it I had entered bids on about twenty items ranging from cleaning products to toys.
The problem with an online auction is you need to be attentive and stay active as a bidder or someone else will out bid you. Worse, unless you are really paying attention you will end up bidding on something you really don’t need or want. One item I imagined would be fun for my grandchildren was a batch of 40 balls. From the picture they looked like they were about ten to twelve inches in diameter and would be fun to kick around in the yard. When I went to pick up my products I found out that these were two inch in diameter balls, not ten inches. The mistake was mine and if I had looked a little closer to the fine print, I would have seen that they were listed as 2” balls. Thankfully, they have been a blast for our grandchildren to play with.
Several other items that I was the highest bidder with ended up being acceptable and were things I would likely use some time in the future. In reality, spending any time at all on these sites just isn’t the best use of my time, especially with my optimistic shoppers’ attitude of thinking I need all the things I have been bidding on.