To See Or Not To See, That Is The Question

April 11, 2013
Advertising advertising

Advertising advertising (Photo credit: Toban B.)

Lately I have been looking at advertisements with closer attention. There are many reasons that I have been doing so, but it’s not those reasons that I have decided to write this post. It’s the way marketing is done on the internet that has really bothered me lately. Yes I get it, this is a “political” site, not a “business” or “advertising” site, and I will get to the politics of it before the end of this post, I promise.

The old way of advertising was to “sell” your product or business to as many people as possible. You didn’t care what they looked like, you just shotgun blasted your ads to as many people as possible. There were always demographics, for example, we didn’t see aspirin commercials during cartoon hours and we didn’t see Tonka Toy ads during Fantasy Island. For the most part, advertisers cared that you had a job, which meant that you had money, and they spent money trying to get you to spend money on them. Return On Investment, that was the bottom line.

Technological advancements since the good old days have brought great new days, or so they say. Okay, nobody says that, but advertising in today’s world micro targets people. They know everything about you. They know if you prefer Coca-Cola or Pepsi, if you are a vegetarian or love a nice juicy rib eye. They know what color matches your eyes, they even know who you should date. They know if you are sleeping, they know if you’re awake, they know if you have been bad or good, so be good for goodness sakes. Yes, advertising, just more invasive that Santa Claus or the Gestapo.

The ROI (Return On Investment)? With micro-micro targeting, advertising agencies on the internet can target you better than the U.S. Military. In fairness, it did take a long time to find Bin Laden. For people who are paying for advertisements, this is a great sell. For the consumer it can be quite creepy.

I’ve been doing some work building a patio. I shop at Lowe’s. I shop there out of convenience, they are right down the street and Home Depot isn’t. I looked at Lowe’s website and before I knew it, I saw Lowe’s advertisement’s everywhere. I saw them on Facebook, on internet sites, where ever Lowe’s was advertising. Problem is, Lowe’s is targeting me, but they already have me as a customer. I have a better solution for Lowe’s. Since I am already a customer, don’t spend money advertising to me, let’s cut out the middle guy and just give me a discount instead.

This seems to be a result of  “retargeting”. Retargeting goes after people who have already visited your site and tries to get them to come back to your site. The “98% who leave and never come back”. That’s all well, but I haven’t been back to Lowe’ anyway, but I have been inside Lowe’s several times since then. I’ve been there looking at tools and materials that I need, sometimes buying those things. Lowe’s doesn’t need to advertise to me.

I did promise you that I would get to the politics of this, and here I am still ranting about some Lowe’s advertisements. It got me to thinking about advertisements on the web, and the mighty mighty king of all search engines (whose name I won’t mention due to some unfounded fear that they can blacklist our sites).  The name sounds like oogle, but with a G in front of the name.

If marketing companies can pin point whether or not you want a blue couch or a red couch because of the places you visited on the internet, then they could also influence you to one product or another. The power to do that also means they have the power to decide what you “won’t” buy and thus prevent you from seeing those advertisements. Are you beginning to see the bigger picture yet?

While “good content” still rules, search engines keep redefining the rules in order to let the cream of the crop rise, but in doing so, they are also claiming the power to decide what is good content or bad content.  Perhaps, maybe in the not too distant future, “good content” might just mean political opinion that most Americans will get to read while bad content is the differing political opinion that’s limited to one side or the other, but hidden from the vast majority of people.

The bottom line, the more advance technology is becoming, the more what we see is controlled. The opportunity to learn new things is no longer a destiny of our own choosing, but a destiny chosen to us by another entity based on our past. With that ability, could your opinions on any subject be swayed if somebody can force you to read one set of views and keep the other set of views hidden from you?

And while I’m not being accusatory, nor am I being a conspiracy theorist, I do think that somewhere down the road somebody will realize they can control what the masses hear or see and can control them as they see fit. Who knows, maybe they already have.

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