Mark Hurrell

mhurrell.co.uk/prospects

Imagine a world pt2

Following this from last week, really interesting article from Ramsi Woodcock exploring if ubiquitous access to information on the internet removes the legal justification for advertising.

Imagine a world wiped clean of advertising of all kinds – from the sponsored links at the top of the Google search results page and the banner ads on your favorite websites or mobile apps to the sponsored posts in your Facebook feed and the TV commercials and billboards in the offline world.

Would you still be able to find all the information you could ever want about products in this alternative world? Of course you would. Your friends, family and the host of complete strangers you follow on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and half a dozen other sites would continue to bombard you with information about their lives, including all the products they are using. And if you want to go out and learn more about a particular product, or find something new, a thousand little blue links optimized to meet your search criteria are just a Google search away.

In other words, we live in a world so immersed in easily accessible information that advertising is no longer needed to inform us about products. Advertising is obsolete.

But if advertising is out of date, then why is it everywhere?

The answer is that advertising has always done more than just inform. And that other function is if anything more powerful today – and more valuable to advertisers – than ever before. It is what scholars of advertising euphemistically call advertising’s power to persuade, and what the rest of us call its power to manipulate.

... That power to sway, which has always been a part of advertising, has been magnified by Google and Facebook, which have invested billions in turning the internet into a vast infrastructure of persuasion that includes the data collection tools running behind all of our favorite free services, the algorithms that decide based on that data how best to target advertising to make us succumb to its blandishments and the screen real estate where ads are displayed.

Google and Facebook put all this in place to help corporate America, not Russian agents.

Ramsi Woodcock in The Fashion Law

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