Block party

Block party

February 17, 2022 By Matthew Crowley Resources

With every broadcast medium comes commercials, and itchy consumers ready to scratch them. Digital video recorders and remote controls have made skipping television advertising a snap. Car radio buttons flick away commercials. Now come Internet ad blockers that let Web surfers bypass the pitches and cut to pouncing kittens.

Several news outlets have covered this story. CNBC reported Aug. 21 that ad blockers are expected to cost Web advertisers $22 billion this year. But for this exercise, I’ll focus on Farhad Manjoo’s Aug. 19 “State of the Art” column in The New York Times. He noted that online advertising pays for stuff we love, but packs a nasty price.

“Ads and the vast, hidden, data-sucking machinery that they depend on to track and profile you are routinely the most terrible thing about the Internet,” he wrote.

The Times’ headline, in its title case style, was:

Ad Blockers and the Nuisance at the Heart of the Modern Web

To write our own take, let’s list the keywords.

ADS: Spot, message, pitch, commercial, announcement, sponsorship
BLOCK: Stop, stifle, halt, desist, quit
PROGRAM: Show, performance, video, display.
TRACK: Trail, pursue, collect, check up on, hound

For a print-style banner and subhead, I’ll seize on sponsor and hark back to a phrase from radio and early television

“Now for a word from our … ”
Ad companies fret as Web blockers let surfers skip pitches

This is risky. The ellipsis stands in for the cut-off announcer’s swallowed “sponsor.” But the familiarity of the head, and the visual image it conjures, drives the headline home. And because we have the deck as a supporting element, it works.

Staying print-friendly, we can focus on program:

We don’t interrupt this program
Software let Web users zap ads, skip trackers 

Now, let’s go a little more search-engine optimized, and focus on that tracking element Fanjoo mentioned. (Remember, SEO headlines list all the keywords Net-crawling bots love.)

Stopped in their tracks: Blocker software lets Web users stifle advertisers’ data collecting

We can also focus on ad and its rhyme with add:

It doesn’t ad up: Web blockers thwart online pitch agencies 

or thinking like math class, we can try:

Ads and subtracting: Commercial-bypassing software delights Web users, vexes sponsors

Those word lists we start with matter: they’re jumping-off points for word associations and creativity. Nora Ephron wasn’t kidding when she said, “Everything is copy; everything is material.” Something you’ve heard or read or sung will come back to you, sparking cleverness in the nick of time.

This article was originally posted on the Copyediting website, August 27, 2015.

Header photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash. 

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