Advertising in the Age of Social Networks: A Virtual Gold Rush?

In the article “The Revolution of Will Not Be Monetized” by Bob Garfield, he asserts that in the era of huge internet properties such as Google’s Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, which have sold for billions on the open market, sky rocketing their creators wealth to some of the highest on earth on earth. Surely, then, their must be incredible advertising potential to be had in sites that nearly everyone on earth uses multiple times a day. Or is there?

It is believed by advertising moguls that, in this age of virtual technology, granting the user more choice and control than ever, they can still apply old school “Madison Avenue” style tactics when it comes to advertising. However it is the autonomy that the internet affords its users that is directly adverse to the more passive methods of advertising used in older forms of media, such as television, radio and print media. In the old days, people were forcefully subjected to advertising against their will. In the form of commercial breaks and print adds breaking up their articles.

On the internet, in contrast, the user has far more control of what they are subjected to. Most of the adds online are considered by the user to be spam, and are more often than not, completely ignored. Some advertisers may feel that since people seem to obsessively check their Facebook many times a day that it would be an ideal space to advertise. However, most people log into Facebook on mobile devices, via a Facebook app which contains no adds at all. Thus one cannot force the user to use a certain method over another to log in to their site, merely so they can be bombarded by adds they will ignore anyway. Through personal experience I have found most advertising online to be only tangentially efficacious as I may only notice a few seconds of an add before I skip it or click away from it. Often the intrusive nature of pop-up adds are so irritating that I immediately want to be rid of them and many internet proxies are programed to block them with the user’s consent.

Clearly the passive means of getting people to pay attention to advertisements is becoming less and less effective as technology only seems to empower the user to skip or avoid adds altogether either online, on television, on the radio and so on. But the one potential advantage that the internet may still have over the older forms of media, is that it can mine data, and observe what kind of things that most interest the user. Then targeting them with adds that are most relevant to the user. In this way, advertisers may be able to capitalize on social media’s ability to get people to reveal personal information. Even now, Facebook will often show adds in a list on the right hand side of the screen that only contain elements based on pages you’ve “liked”.

With this in mind, the potential for advertisers and big corporations to snoop on the user may end up back-firing, if they end up treading too far into the user’s personal information. Thus causing the users to find and demand more ways to censor and conceal their personal information. Therefore if “Madison Avenue” wants to strike gold in the age of social networking, they will need to find a balance between how much they can learn about the consumers without violating their privacy.

This entry was posted in Economy, Science and Technology, World News and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.