Advertising Controls What We See



Throughout my twenty-one years I have wondered what this world would be like without all the advertisements. I mean it has taken over shows we watch, it has been integrated into our social media apps and even scattered throughout the Internet and on buildings. I cannot go ten minutes let alone a whole day without seeing an ad for something. Companies and people spend billions and billions of dollars in order to have a lot of ads placed where people would notice them quickly and be interested in it right away. It used to be ads in a newspaper and now with all the rapidly advancing technology it has moved to being digital ads and interrupts what we do online or on an app. 

The ads on social media have been advancing constantly. I can’t scroll through 10 posts on Instagram without having at least one or more advertisements for something. Same goes with Facebook. I see more ads than I do with posts from my family and friends. On Snapchat, when I am watching one of the many stories on the discover page that are not from my friends or family, they have snuck in ads in the middle. So if I am watching a story and it’s in multiple parts there would be an ad just when the story was getting interesting. YouTube is even on the advertisement bandwagon. We can’t even watch a video without there being an ad in the beginning or multiple ones throughout the video which only makes it longer. Sometimes there are more than one ad in before we start the video and maybe they will have the button to skip the ads but not all of the videos do which can get very annoying. The tricky thing with ads that are digital now is that there is some type of algorithm that takes in whatever you have searched or looked at online and the next time you see an ad it will be about or the area of whatever you look or search for online. I was recently looking at a bracelet that can help calm anxiety and once I was done looking at them I went onto Instagram and the company that sold those bracelets were in almost every ad I saw. It only took a couple seconds for the algorithm to spew out all these different ads about the bracelets, the company, or even with other things that lowers anxiety. 

Television shows nowadays are mostly taken up by commercials which are just more forms of advertisements that is suffocating the human race. I mean I have always made the joke saying that thirty minute shows are really like fifteen minutes long because commercials take up the majority of what we actually watch. The commercials are always strategically placed as well. They always appear right when something is about to happen and the audience is left on a cliffhanger or whenever something big happens. This is mainly due to the fact that they know that the viewers are going to keep watching to see what happens to the characters because they need to know what is going to happen before they can go about their lives. However, things have been changing. Now people can pay extra money to have ads removed or they are moving away from cable TV to streaming services like Netflix where there are no ads at all just to be free from all of the marketing tactics. 

Cal Newport states in his book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World that the attention economy has become a profitable power in the world and that technology specifically smartphones at big companies like Apple has helped this happen because it has been able to target specific advertisements to specific people. Now with everyone being addicted to their phones and social media in a way, it had allowed digital advertising to grow and grow. 

Digital marketing has become very powerful and it’s all thanks to us as humans and our addiction with technology and our phones especially. According to Cal Newport in his book of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, he states that “the services like email, the Internet, or even all of the social media apps, are engineered to be addictive — robbing time and attention from activities that more directly support your professional and personal goals…” He goes on to mention how we should be using “The Craftsman Approach to Tool Selection which is “to identify the core factors that determine success and happiness in your professional and personal life. Adopt a tool only if its positive impacts on these factors substantially outweigh its negative impacts.” I one thousand percent agree with both statements. The different services that we now have the access to like social media has made us become severely addicted to it and distracting us a lot of the time from the happiness and success we want to get from our careers or anywhere in our personal lives. I cannot see anywhere in the near future where everyone will get rid of the services where it makes their lives worse or have no use of it. Yes, many people have done it but the majority hasn’t and it’s mainly due to their job needing them or FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) where they are worried they will miss something really big or cool once they get rid of it. In an article called “How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media,” Evan Asano states “Astonishingly, the average person will spend nearly two hours (approximately 116 minutes) on social media every day, which translates to a total of 5 years and 4 months spent over a lifetime.” That’s a lot of time spent on social media when we could be spending it bettering our lives and it is how the marketing companies get to us with their digital advertisements since they know we spend the majority of our lives on social media. Overall, the advertising industry is hugely successful, powerful, and completely disrupting and annoying in our lives and we have ourselves to thank for it. 

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