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When a caveman first put a sign outside his cave advertising mammoth for sale he probably didn’t realise what he had started. The value of traded goods is now well over $100 trillion a year – and it was advertising that started it.

Until the sign went up the mammoth just rotted at the back of the cave and apart from the acrid smell and the sounds of Mrs. Caveman complaining, nobody knew anything about it. Of course once the caveman started driving around around in a new Mercedes and going to expensive restaurants his neighbours would have wondered what his secret was. “It must be a sign,” they would have said. And it was.

In 2015, worldwide annual spending on advertisements will surpass $570 billion, passed on to consumers with higher prices. L’Oréal don’t sell shampoo, they sell an image (“because you’re worth €4 billion profit.”) Poundland’s shampoo (in tests 100% of consumers couldn’t taste the difference) is probably pretty much the same stuff, but without Jennifer Anniston’s fees. Of course a lot of people like watching beautiful women washing their hair on TV and are happy to donate to companies like L’Oréal; but not all ads are that popular.1878_Davis_advert_Merchants_Row_Boston_Massachusetts

This year Britain is on target to be the first country where digital advertising will outstrip traditional media such as TV and newspapers. Worldwide digital advertisers spend $135 billion a year trying to get our attention – and it’s growing. The problem is that whilst we may like Jennifer Aniston, we don’t like the digital advertising that pays for Google and Facebook (generating virtually all of their profits). However though we may be exasperated by yet another pop-up ad, most of us accept the irritation and the subsequently slower download speeds (on average 4 times slower).

But now the tech-savvy have found a solution – “ad blockers”. The big names for mobile devices are Crystal, Peace and Purify – and of course Apple, whose latest iOS 9 phone operating system incorporates ad blocking capabilities as standard. Advertisers are furious, their business models having been designed around these “inescapable” and cleverly targeted ads. In the immediate future we can look forward to a frantic cat and mouse game, with increasingly sophisticated software being developed by both sides, each trying to cancel the effectiveness of the other side’s previous shot. Where will it end? The likelihood is that eventually we will have to pay for every site that we visit. But whilst this may appear to be bad news for consumers the freedom of journalists to express themselves without having to worry about advertisers looking over their shoulders has got to be good news for the reading public.

So come on all you stingy readers of Berkeley Squares, put your money where your eyes are – and pay up!