Tragedy of the marketing commons, Part III

Spam is a tragedy of the commons, says Len Ellis of Wunderman, a direct marketing agency. I agree. After admitting that spam is wrecking direct marketing and that technical solutions are imperfect and temporary, his conclusion hints at (but fails to demand) a real solution:

While we curb despoilers and secure our own commercial freedoms, we must make it our business to exercise those freedoms to create an online commons worth protecting. We all share at least one common purpose: to secure a terrain where innovations and ambitions in information exchange between companies and consumers can be productively pursued. If we don’t properly cultivate our commons, spammers will deservedly prevail.

Why won’t anyone in the industry admit that “free market solutions” fail unless consumers have have (a) information and (b) power. Yesterday, I proposed a partial solution. but I think the gentleman from Wunderman will hate it.

2 thoughts on “Tragedy of the marketing commons, Part III

  1. Wish to be helpful in refining proposal from yesterday, and this is the perfect place. What could be more “common” than the surf of browsing, and more endangered as a commons than the experience of encountering a lot “targeted” advertising, particularly noisome popups based on misbegotten information? Need to be able to opt out of those kinds of pitches. For that matter, what ever became of opt in? Last heard, it is open season for financial institutions and their “partners,” for example, to prey endlessly on their customers unless they file some obscure form that is not guaranteed to mean anything whatsoever. It is very curious how the commons brings up very confusing issues related to privacy, rights and privileges, here today if that, gone tomorrow.

  2. I’m generally skeptical of technical solutions, but the ability to create a popup is a security flaw in the browser. Javascript shouldn’t support it and the only reason it does is that Microsoft doesn’t want to alienate the advertising community. It doesn’t care about the user community now that it has a near-monopoly.
    If you’re using a Mac, I recommend Chimera or Safari. If you’re using a PC, I recommend Mozilla. These browsers have closed the security hole and allow you to kill popups.
    You’re dead right about the situation with financial institutions and others who have more control over your address than you have. There is no technical fix for this. Nor is there a “free market solution”. The only solution is legislative.

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