Technology & Advertising

Have you ever caught yourself ten items deep in a shopping cart on some trendy clothing site wondering how you just spent the last hour doing so when it is the opposite of what you intended to be doing when you first pulled up your internet browser? Hopefully the answer is yes; so then I am not the only one who is guilty of doing this. But when I stop to think about what led me to spending my time and money on a site I never intended to be on, it can often be traced back to advertisements that appeared on my page: Advertisements that seemed to be personally designed to grab my attention and warrant a visit to the site. I was vaguely aware that there are programs that can use your frequent searches and sites to formulate a string of advertisements that would appeal to you based on your previous interested but I never knew just how complex it was and how great of a positive impact it has had on the advertisement and public relations world.

It would make sense that being able to tailor ads to individuals would be a positive thing for advertisement, and it is just another example of how technology has played a large role in the realm of advertisement. Previous to modern day technology, ads would have to be geared towards a more general audience and the hope would be that it reached those it was intended to impact (Athey, Gans, 2009). However, today—thanks to technology and software and formulas—advertisements can be geared specifically for that person based on their interested (Cameron, 2013). In my opinion, it would be harder to ignore advertisements that actually interest you than those that do not affect you at all. I mean, we’ve all been listening to the radio and decided to randomly channel surfer over having to listen to advertisements that do no pertain to you at all. Which, in my opinion shows the difference between the effectiveness of targeted advertisement versus general advertisement.

While looking through various sources, I found that—according to Stanford researchers—“highly targeted online ads don’t work” (Robles, 2016). I, obviously, disagree with this immensely. They came about their conclusion via a mathematical equation that supposedly proved that people felt more weary towards personalized ads because they were afraid it is some kind of ploy. While this does make sense and I can see where some people would have trepidation when ads on the Internet feel almost too spot on, I still believe that there is something to targeted advertisement that makes them far more effective than advertising to a general population.

If a technique is strong enough that extremely popular sites, such as Facebook and Google, are willing to use them in order to try to better their results with advertising, I think there is definitely a degree of effectiveness that needs to be acknowledged (Cameron, 2013). The only thing I have left to wonder is how much the advances of technology can further the ability to use target advertising even more effectively. Will we be able to resist the ads if they are exactly what we want to see?

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