I am in the process of reviewing my opinions about the localisation of Internet advertising. Time was, I used to feel hard-done-by in Hong Kong, because so many web-based special offers were “limited to residents of the USA”. Not that I was really keen on pyramid-schemes or matrix-marketing just for a free iPod (or iPhone, now), but I’m touchy about these things: if I don’t take part I prefer it to be because I choose not to, rather than because I am forbidden from doing so; it makes a difference to me.
But now I see what the Americans have to put up with in return for unconstrained access to all the silly special offers. I’m writing this from Washington DC, and all the web 2.0 sites that I frequent are absolutely smeared with commercials that I never see in Hong Kong. Facebook is covered in flyers and sponsored adverts. I used to read Facebook comments from users complaining about all the advertising, but because we never see those ads in Hong Kong, I couldn’t understand what the fuss was about. And YouTube keeps inserting interstitial ads into the middle of its videos, which is damnably annoying. All this, just because I suddenly have a USA IP address.
We are very fortunate that there is little location-based advertising on English language web sites in HK. Long may this state of affairs continue. Hurrah for localised adverts, as long as I don’t have to see them!
(To forestall comments, yes I have tried AdBlock for FireFox; it works perfectly but it slows the browser down an unacceptable amount so I won’t use it.)