Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Online Advertising.

I'd like to comment on advertising more thoroughly. While "F Ng" has already commented on Camille Paglia's comparison of online (banner) ads with art, I would like to make a stronger argument that, in essence, they are most akin to hypertext in it's traditional sense. With increased market research and online tracking services, marketers are easily able to know what sites you visit, in what order, track bands, movies and books in your Facebook or MySpace "Interests" and then tailor ads to you and other very specific niche groups. For example, if you are searching cute pictures of cats, you may get an ad for PetSmart/Petco on your next page. Likewise, if tickets for your favorite Indie band go on sale for a local show, you will be shown ads directing you where to go in order to purchase them. This simulates hyper text (not just in the essence of it's definition but of it's functionality) in that we are actively being shown "links" which direct us from our current search into more in depth/ specific information and products, relevant to our initial topic. Additionally, think about Google ads. These are the epitome of the traditional "hypertext link" which allows for you to click on the hypertext and be redirected to a sponsored web site which fulfills the requirements of elements you've entered and submitted into the Google search field.

Can we comparatively say that online ads are as "intrusive" as Paglia suggests television ad spots have become? She comments that tv hosts "...sternly [stop] even the most high-ranking guest mid-flight to cut away for a series of eye assaulting commercials." While commercials have become an integrated regiment of advertising spots throughout television programming, research I conducted last semester shows that students felt more at home with commercials because they are expected. While I believe that online advertising will fade into the background of our online endeavors as we learn to "tune out" the blinking banners much like we have for commercial breaks, I still believe that we are just fighting the initial intrusion of commercialism on our (relatively)new media space. Despite pesky pop-up and pop-under ads, the viewer has a greater choice of whether or not to view the ads (and at our leisure at that). Online, we are choosing whether or not to watch or take advantage of an advertisement. We are an active consumer, no longer passively consuming commercialism, taking control of our information consumption and very ADD online habits. It is at this point in which we have become critics of what we see online that we will become "fascinated by advertising slogans, as folk poetry." (Paglia) They will become culturally integrated with our online experience if they have not succeeded in this effort thus far.


forand said...

But haven't internet ads already tried to win people over with silly "hit the red duck" games and interactive advertisements that require participation before selling you their new mouse pads or online dating network? And as far as personalized ads tailored to my interests, I'm happy looking up my favorite bands' schedules and searching google images for cute pictures of cats on my own...I don't need the computer to pick and choose what I should be buying...although that looks like where we are headed. I don't think online advertisement can be compared to TV commercials for many of the reasons Teri and Paglia discuss, but in the same way that DVR and Tivo are changing television advertising, ad-blockers and pop-up blockers have done the same to eliminate pesky online ads. As far as ads bordering my favorite websites...no one is forcing me to look at them and I respect the creator of the website's endeavors to turn a profit. We as humans have an innate aversion to being spoon fed anything, especially advertising...while at the same time unable to peel our eyes from the glowing screens of the 21st century. Technology is making it possible to all but extinguish the intrusion that advertising has on our media experiences.

Ted Baker said...

Just an aside: I don't know anyone who has (at least admitted to) knowingly clicking an internet ad. While they may be more targeted than banner ads of the past, most people still seem bothered by their intrusive nature. Let's not forget, we're on the internet, if I really wanted to win a free iPod, I could just Google it.

I installed AdBlock in Firefox, so I've barely seen any ads for the past few years.

Lance Strate said...

excellent points all around. One thing to look for is the internet equivalent of product placement, and there is an option for something like it here on blogger. The ads will be embedded into the actual messages, rather than be situated outside of the main content, or maybe they'll just ad hot links, so if you happen to use the term i-pod, a link will automatically be added that takes you to the Apple Store (and you would get a modest finders fee for any sales generated).