Monday, January 15, 2007

Post No Bills?

There's an excellent article in today's New York Times about the growth of the use of alternative media in out-of-home advertising and growing concerns that eventually, we'll see ads everywhere. Citing examples like some of the new formats I recently expressed interest in, the piece looks at the balance that must be struck between innovation and irritation.

But it begs a bigger question. If people are concerned about ads encroaching overly aggressively into public space -- particularly high-traffic areas -- what recourse do they have? There are already laws limiting billboard placement, but I'm curious whether an approach like that of the Nature Conservancy, which buys land so that it won't be developed. Several TV networks have refused to sell Adbusters air time to air its uncommercials, which indicates that the method might not work entirely well.

Some people have likened ads in public space to graffiti in terms of its possible detrimental effects, but now, there are even companies specializing in blending graffiti and ads. If we're hiding ads in out public spaces, how can we possibly hope to limit them?

Do we even need to?

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