So I Was Watching Hulu the Other Day. . .
Not everyone wants to be famous, but almost everyone, even when they’re too self-effacing to admit it publicly, likes to be admired. For the most part this isn’t ultimately too difficult to achieve: ever see The Five Heartbeats or That Thing You Do? They’re both movies about music groups in the ’60′s, and they both feature a similar scene: the first time either of the groups’ songs comes out on the radio, the characters are invariably home doing something mundane and a friend from down the street barges into their bedroom and says “You’re on the radio! You’re famous!” Exuberant pandemonium ensues, there’s a montage of phone calls and high fives, then another montage where the groups are doing concert after concert to hordes of adoring fans.
Ah, the beauties of yesteryear! The radio doesn’t have the sort of influence it used to. Except for us NPR-addicted neanderthals, most people only listen to the radio in their cars, and even then we’re usually listening for ten seconds at a time, surfing through channels till we find the radio station that we can comfortably ignore till we get to where we’re going. More and more people are getting their entertainment online, and more and more advertisers have adjusted their models to people’s viewing habits.
The contemporary audience is just as likely to watch entire series on NBC’s website than they are to watch a single episode when it airs, and given that not a single one of the major networks will ever give up their advertising revenues, they’re putting more and more of these ads in between segments of those shows. Up till now, the localization of advertising hasn’t really caught fire yet; but the growth of services like Yellow Pages (ahem, YP.com) and the now-decade-long dominance of craigslist has proven that local focus can work. Now that the economy is starting to free up for a lot of the country and everyone who has a Google account is automatically tracked by the largest advertising market in the world, the chance that a neighbor could stumble across your online ad in between episodes of Glee are that much more likely.
The internet isn’t new anymore; it’s no longer a fad or an anomaly; it’s an integral part of our culture, just like the local newspaper was for people in our great-grandparents’ day and the radio and television was for our parents and grandparents. How would you feel if you made a video, posted it on Youtube, and it went viral? How would you feel if your neighbor from across the street ran across to you while you were washing your car and said “Hey, so I was watching a rerun of Sister Wives when I saw an ad for your hobby shop. You’re on the Internet! You’re famous!”?