Naomi Klein argues that ads are a rip-off, a perversion of culture, and should be ignored or boycotted whenever possible. The well-known “Adbusters” group continues the campaign, calling for “Creative Resistance.”. Here is a useful article about the whole movement.
It is less commonly recognized that ads support free speech. No, I don’t mean that the ad itself is free speech, although this of course is true. Rather ads subsidize the free speech of others.
A simple example makes the point. A full issue of Forbes, without ads, would cost about $9.
An hour of network television, without commercials, would cost an additional 32 cents an hour to finance. This seems like less of a good deal to me, I would rather pay the 32 cents to eliminate the ads (that’s only 16 cents per Seinfeld episode!), but then again, I am not a typical viewer. I wouldn’t watch much TV, with or without the ads, and that is one reason why we have them, even in this age of cable TV. The people who are truly bothered by ads move to other forums, such as books, that stick few advertisements in your face.