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July 25, 2006 / Toby Dayton

I Think, Therefore I Spam

twister_51.jpgThis week’s Blog Swap post is from Amitai Givertz of Recruitomatic.

Most people I ask complain that unsolicited email is the most egregious form of advertising. There are many reasons for this, some of which I understand and some of which I don’t. To the extent that the cumulative affect of spam – clogging stuff up – is problematic, and porn and nasty words are offensive to most right-minded people, I get it. I can even see why some people might get annoyed with the same message touting mortgages or member-enhancing herbal concoctions arriving day in and day out can get tiresome. Even the deceptive subject lines. But, to the extent that spam is inherently bad because it is unsolicited, makes no sense to me at all.

With few exceptions advertising is, by its nature, obtrusive and mostly irrelevant to the hapless recipients’ needs, wants and desires. Most advertising is unsolicited, or a trade-off at best. I want televised entertainment and news, so I put up with the ads. Do I want to change my choice of tampon, refinance my house, or sleep with Fabio? I don’t. Do you? I listen to the radio, so I accept the ads. Am I suing someone, looking for hurricane shutters, needing a surgical procedure, fixing my credit scores and wishing I had to the fortitude to admit I’m an alcoholic and need help? Not this year. I drive up and down the turnpike but do I want to reconsider my unwanted pregnancy, go to college or tune in to another radio station and get a different demographically targeted set of ads? No more than I want to finish my on-the-road coffee without having to consider the fact that I should have saved a buck and bought a Styrofoam sandwich too.

Advertising – unsolicited, unwanted, and unnecessary – is everywhere! I use Instant Messenger and now have to consider whether I would do a number on Britney Spears or lie alone on a sleep-number bed. Even in the men’s room, as I stand there peeing, I am confronted with even more choices – but then again, what better place to catch my attention as I hold in my hand the very object of most advertisers subtle messaging? Yes, as an advertiser myself, I too find myself thinking on my feet.

The bottom-line? Advertising is the price we pay for free speech, freedom of choice and living in a free society. Whether unsolicited or not, it’s in your face (or in your hands) most of the time. And in the absence of these freedoms, advertising simply becomes repackaged and called propaganda. Messaging is prevalent because it’s fundamentally human.

Shally “Shallywag” Steckerl has a hot thread going on with his post Didn’t like SMS recruiting? Think again! Among the possible objections to text messaging recruitment/candidate communications to cell phones is the concern that this is “spamming”. But just as Yahoo! HotJobs and Monster have mass e-mail options – is that considered spamming – the end may justify the means. Candidates are a de facto – not sacrosanct – demographic. What many “Oh-golly-you-spammer-degenerate” critics seemingly forget is that when a candidate posts their resume online they are inviting the attention of recruiters. If those recruiters turn to bulk mail, text messaging or mass e-mail to get their message delivered, then that’s price a candidate must be prepared to pay for advertising themselves. While I concede that the delivery method can negatively impact employer branding and the candidate experience, that’s not the point here. The point is that some people should get over themselves thinking that spam is a) unstoppable and b) the work of Satan.

I don’t choose to hear “f-ing” this and “f-ing” that, but if I’m “out there” I accept there is a possibility I will. I don’t want to cleanse my bowels or find a job but I’m grateful that there is someone out there who recognizes that one day I might. And, I know our inboxes and cell phones are so personal to us as to be near-holy, but He too moves in mysterious ways. I suggest that anyone who has the problem today we all faced a few years back with unsolicited “junk” should consider that – as with all two way communication – they too have a responsibility to manage their lives. With freedom comes responsibility, no? I say, if you don’t like it, block it. If you don’t know how to block read the manual. In the meantime, long live advertising – in all its myriad forms!

© 2006 Amitai Givertz

[tags]Advertising, Ubiquity of Advertising, Spam[/tags]