Defined Words: advertising, consumerism, online consumerism, sponsored content
After our ancestors found a steady source of food, another type of competition developed in the form of businesses. A business works by supplying customers with a good or service in exchange for money. When rival businesses begin competing for the same market, the one that can attract more customers is the one that will survive and thrive.
A strategic way of spreading the word about your business is to use the influence of someone else. Heralds of the day had already established their influence by bringing the news. If what that person says is always seen as true, perhaps you as a businessman can pay that person to boast about your business; this is advertising.
Advertising is any stimulus that can be used to remind an audience about a business or idea. An ad can be a good word from an influential person, or even a sign outside a store. Many businesses learned that they can continue to advertise their products after the sale is made by printing their logo onto the product. In a world where money rules, people face a barrage of advertisements on a daily basis. Ads take the form of catchy jingles, easily recognizable symbols, or simply a well-known person’s face or voice.
Before the widespread communication of the modern day, advertising was a helpful tool for boosting sales but didn’t offer much advantage in the competition. However, as media grew into the form of newspapers, radio, and television entertainment, advertising has the potential to play a much bigger role. With a single ad, you could reach the entire audience of the newspaper, radio or television show.
As television became more popular, the advertising slots during certain shows morphed into a market of its own. With large corporations buying the influential slots to guarantee the most viewers, small businesses without ads often lost customers in their own markets and died.
The capitalist market of the United States works best when civilians spend their money on products or services. That money is then meant to travel from the company to the workers so they can afford to buy products and services from other companies. It’s clear that the economy is meant to be in constant flux as people exchange their money. Unfortunately, this is not reality since businesses have figured out a way to tip the scales in their favor. What results is a culture that promotes buying new things over anything else; a form of institutionalized advertising called consumerism.
To keep a free market economy going, the people with money must be willing to exchange that money for some good or service. If those same people are bombarded with advertisements to buy goods and services, they are going to have an expectation to continuously buy something new. Advertisements are intended to offer a single perspective through which the consumer would be foolish not to buy their product.
Along comes the Internet and a massive new market opens up in the process: online consumerism. Businesses no longer have to compete for specific time slots during a TV or radio broadcast. They could now put their advertisement on a web page for everyone to see when they visit. Websites begin making money based on how many ads they can fit on a site, more ads mean more money. When money is involved, you can bet humans will find a way to get as much as possible.
While the real world can only place advertisements and hope you look at them, the Internet allows companies to plant ads everywhere. Online advertisements can pop up, flash bright colors, look like news articles (called sponsored content) or even simulate people trying to communicate with you. The advancing technology allows companies to get instant feedback on what types of articles you click and where you look while you’re reading a page. The advertisements are then programmed to be suited to your specific consumer needs. In short, the ads are learning.
Advertising has adapted the use of statistical tracking technologies to record your online footprint and even scan your eyes to see where exactly you are looking. The statistical data has become a market of its own where companies sell data to advertisers so they can gain access to specific demographics. In other words, companies now exist to watch what you do and then tell the advertisers, and it’s a booming industry!
It’s important to remember the intended purpose of advertising: to get the word out about a product or service. An entire industry has been built based on manipulating the perspectives of an audience, often using Basic Functions like fear or sex. On top of that, another industry of selling ad space arises leading to only a few individuals with near total control.
All this adds up to a society reminiscent of dystopian stories where the people’s minds are being controlled by the few in charge. Remember to look for the intention when viewing or hearing any advertisement. You must determine why they have made this ad and whether you want to be part of that intention.