Engagement Scores

I have gone to great lengths to avoid commercials and advertisements. I was one of the first purchasers of a TiVO, which allowed me to fast forward through commercials. Now virtually every cable box sold is a DVR (digital video recorder) like TiVO. I tried a while back to listen to classic rock radio, but the commercials drove me nuts (two songs, then a commercial; lord knows how much of a broadcast hour on radio is devoted to commercials). Newspapers just lie a lot, and I think most of the ink on their pages is devoted to ads. So I just avoid them these days. If there’s a pop-up ad on the web, I’ll be the first to click out of it. Junk mail in my snail mail box just gets recycled, without being opened. Thousands of companies and try to pound me with ads in my email feed. I get 10-20 legitimate emails for every 100 spams. My spam filters catch most of this and divert it before I ever see it.

Did I mention I don’t like ads?

Companies I actually have a relationship with (my bank, credit card companies, businesses I’ve shopped with) continually bombard me with ads via emails I didn’t ask for. Every time anyone takes a poop, I have to be informed about it from Facebook. And Facebook is a place I almost never visit.

Here’s an idea I’d like to see implemented: “engagement scores”. This would be a score which indicated how much “engagement” I want from any given entity. If I’ve never bought anything from your company, don’t ever email me. Zero engagement. If you’re, say, American Express, and I want you to send me electronic billing statements, that’s all I want from you. Engagement score: maybe 3. Statements, yes. Ads, never, I don’t care what nifty kewl thing you have to offer. If I bank with your bank, and I get paper statements and you want to offer me the electronic statements, don’t. If I wanted electronic statements, I’d search online for them and ask you about them. I don’t want to hear about them in an email ad every week or month. Engagement score: 2.

You probably get the idea. I’ve had to put up with ads all my life, having grown up in the 60s and survived until now. And I’m done. If I want to buy the odd random item, I’ll seek you out. Don’t bother to try to anticipate what I want. In fact, I’ve almost gotten to the point that, if I see an ad from you, I refuse to buy anything from you. My base level engagement score is 0. If I have a commercial relationship with your company, that score might rise to 1 or 2.

I haven’t worked out how such a system would be structured. I don’t know if the scale would go from 0 to 5 or 0 to 10. I haven’t sat down and worked out the details. But I think it’s an awfully good idea. Maybe if a huge group of the population accepted and started using it, we might get some relief. The idea would be that if you “over-engage” me (contact me more than my score for you would dictate) then you lose me as a customer. That is, I refuse to buy further products from you, or I delay my purchases with you, and perhaps seek out a different company to be my provider of X, whatever it is.

Hey you kids– get off my yard!