Appeals court rules against Seattle’s curbs on yellow pages | Local News | The Seattle Times: “The court ruled the city’s law is unconstitutional, saying yellow pages are protected, like other publications, by the First Amendment.
‘Although portions of the directories are obviously commercial in nature, the books contain more than that, and we conclude that the directories are entitled to the full protection of the First Amendment,’ Judge Richard Clifton wrote in the decision. ‘As a result, when we evaluate the ordinance under strict scrutiny, it does not survive.’”
(Via. the Seattle Times)
The huge thing that bugs me about a story like this is not all the legal issues involved. I actually agree with the court’s finding in principle. It’s the notion that you have a group of people who clearly don’t want these books, and yet the Phone-book companies want to shove them on their doorsteps, anyway. I mean, once someone tells you point blank they are completely uninterested in your product, what is the point of shoving it down their throat? You’re not going to make any money off these people. You’re going to waste your own money printing a book that immediately gets trashed. So why would you give it to them, and pay a lawyer do defend your right to do so?
This is the problem with advertising as a business model. All the stats are based on the number of “eyeballs” rather than the effectiveness of the ads themselves. Reach the maximum number of people, period. Don’t worry if you’re offering breast implants to men or Viagra to women. Just reach people, because at best you’re going to convert on 1 or 2 percent of them. The money comes from total people who saw the ad, not the percentage of those who actually bought the product as a result.
This was the problem that Google’s promise of “targeted” ads was supposed to solve. But it hasn’t. At the end of the day, all the targeting in the world doesn’t pay as well as good old fashioned dumb carpet bombing of the entire universe.