Advertising: Technological Devil or Commercial Angel?

There’s another Facebook rumor out there. This one might be more than a rumor, since I read it in the Wall Street Journal (online version). They plan to add advertising directly into your news feed. Of course, some people are getting pretty darned upset at the thought such as a commentary piece I read at Gizmodo.com. That particular commentator believed this would cause everyone to leave Facebook.

Yeah, um, not going to happen.

First of all, Facebook is pretty addictive. The amount of personal news passed around between friends can fill an afternoon for some people. I know I check Facebook at least twice a week. Okay, I don’t have many friends on Facebook, so my news feed is pretty boring. And I already get advertising from the companies I “Liked”, like Chick-Fil-A and Allstate’s Mayhem (I really enjoy Mayhem). Adding another few blurbs of advertising is not going to the end of my world, not even the little bit of my life that is the Facebook world.

Advertising is the driving force behind the Internet. I know that most people think the Internet is the place to go to get information and contact our friends. Believe it or not, those services are not the ones that pay the electric bills of all the servers and all the wires that make up the Internet.

The continued existence of the Internet is highly dependent on us, the consumers, spending money. We don’t even need to spend it online. Anything we spend our money on probably has a portion of that money going to pay for advertising, and every day more and more of that advertising is online.

It’s a circular cycle. A need or want causes us to buy an ‘x’ from company ‘y’. Company ‘y’ needs to make people want their stuff, so they spend their money on advertising, convincing you that you need something you’d probably wouldn’t normally even want.

As a culture, we’ve been exposed to endless advertising from the first time we turned on Saturday Morning Cartoons. To the younger kids out there, I should probably explain that back in days when Television was only three or four channels, the only time any of those channels showed cartoons was Saturday Morning. Okay, some UHF station might have had an hour or so of cartoons on after school. For the younger kids out there, UHF (Ultra High Frequency) is a band of radio waves that televison signals were broadcast at. UHF were the channels 14-83. These channels were usually on the secondary channel selector knob on the television. For younger people, back in the day, knobs were a selection tool used on mechanical and electrical devices to select one from many options, they didn’t just open doors.

Internet Advertising keeps the World Wide Web going. I actually should differentiate between the two. The Internet is the network of cables, satellites and computers that the World Wide Web runs on. The World Wide Web is all those web pages we visit. The Internet is also used for other things besides the World Wide Web, but most of us are oblivious. For every other paragraph in this blog, I will be naughty and use the term “Internet” when I should be using “World Wide Web.” 99% of the people who read this wouldn’t care or understand the difference without the presence of this one annoying paragraph.

Very few places on the Internet are advertising free. Even this page has subtle advertising – see that spot up there that says “Currently Available Published Works”? Oh and that little Facebook symbol hiding in the title block.

That advertising is usually harmless and we barely consciously notice it. We’ve all gotten pretty good at not clicking on the links offering fertility drugs and low interest mortgages. When Facebook adds it’s advertising in our news feeds, we won’t usually notice it, and if we do we’ll build a tolerance.

Still, it’s a win-win. We get the free internet and the advertisers get their products entered into our minds, albeit sometimes without us knowing or caring that it’s there.

Did I mention somewhere that spending money is good for the economy? I know I’ve said so in several other posts. If advertising gets us to spend money, and it does, it’s good for the economy. 

I mean if it wasn’t for advertising how else would I know that I absolutely need a glasses free 3d phone? I would have gone through life ignorantly never knowing what I didn’t have. We can’t have that, now; can we?

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