So yesterday I read about the frankly awful idea of paying people to read commercial e-mails. Attention Auction operates on a Google Adwords-type auction model that gives brands the chance to set a reward to pay to recipients for reading their message (as Jemima Kiss says, since when has a financial incentive been a decent indicator of how useful mail would be?). This follows the launch of other services that automatically send tweets from your twitter account "from advertisers that you approve" (that some publishers seem interested to trial). And this follows a rash of offers I seem to have been getting lately from organisations willing to pay me to write a blog post about them. For the record, it's not something I'm going to do.
It's possible to appreciate that with the convergence of a number of big trends, notably the relentless socialisation of media streams and search, the effectiveness of peer-to-peer word of mouth, the fragmentation of mass audience reach, the declining efficacy of the one-to-many model, that organisations are trying new formats. I get the need for experimentation. But this is not the answer. For me, this belief comes not so much from moral indignation (though the whole things feels pretty yucky), but rather a conviction that anything that positions advertising as a cost in the eyes of the recipient will not be the future of advertising.