27 votes

Why don't we just ban targeted advertising?

34 comments

  1. [11]
    Autoxidation
    (edited )
    Link
    I thought there was a really excellent rebuttal to a more accepting idea over on Reddit and wanted to share it here. Posted for those who don't want to jump back to Reddit (but context for the...

    I thought there was a really excellent rebuttal to a more accepting idea over on Reddit and wanted to share it here.

    Posted for those who don't want to jump back to Reddit (but context for the response is handy), I've lightly edited their edits out and a couple of spelling errors:

    Because targeted advertising is better than non-targeted advertising for both the seller and the buyer. There's really no room for debate on that point.

    Umm, there is plenty of room left for debate on this point. Just because a product is relevant to someone's interests doesn't mean that buying it is in their best interest.

    Additionally, I think that we should really consider to what extent advertising has an effect on one's identity and identity-shaping process. As someone who wrote their thesis on the subject of how advertising affects a persons autonomy, let me leave you a few breadcrumbs on this.

    Take a look at Attention Merchants by Tim Wu. It goes into great length about how we got from snake oil to today's bullshit. The veil is lifted on how advertisers creep into our minds and throughout the book one realizes how this is very clearly not in our interest. The closer the advertisers get to the actual people that they are advertising to, the more harm that can be and is often done.

    A word on identities. We all go through identity-formation processes throughout our life. This often starts off and goes back-and-forth between established societial identities, such as punkers, patriots, various -ers from -isms, and a sense of our own self in the world. Advertisers take advantage and manipulate this process. Healthy identity formation comes from shared values and personal experiences, which create the foundation of the identity. But advertisers have invaded our lives and pushed to redefine our identities not by these things, but by products. And they did it. Possessions, once merely a vehicle for our own self-identification, have become a large part of what defines us. This is because, over the time, the question has started to be risen: "If you don't have this product, are you really ______?" It comes in various forms and never so direct, but the desired outcome arrives: More money for the advertisers and the sellers. And the more deeply ingrained you can get your product into an identity group, not just any individual, the better and more secure revenue stream can be captured.

    This is problematic. This is not better for us. For more information on this point, check out this article Advertising and Social Identity.

    One more point while I'm on it.

    You're at the supermarket. You're feeling fine. You just need to pick up some bread. Goddamn, you love PB&J. Let's do this thing and get home to make this shit. You're walking down the aisle, and before you get to the bread, you are, of course, seeing the many products on the shelves. Considered simply 'packaging', they are all really advertisements themselves. You see the M&Ms, and you stop. You walk up and take a look, your mouth starts to water a bit. Well, they are on sale...

    We're animals, and advertisements train us to behave in certain ways. No, they aren't going to control your mind entirely, but they will influence your decisions to some degree. Wonder why you never bought any of those fifty other brands of chocolate? When you get to the store, those options have always been there, but they've never felt like the right choice. The safe choice, those delicious little balls of goodness, M&Ms. The packaging, just a picture on a piece of plastic, makes you feel something and reminds you of what's to wait after ripping it open.

    This effect on us is not usually done after the first advertisement. Advertisers send us thousands and thousands of messages. They don't need to win the battle, just the war. If you don't try it today, or this year, they're betting that you will eventually, at least at some point in the next five years. Have you ever thought to yourself "Okay, fine, I'll try it" to a product that you've seen advertisements for but never tried, and maybe even went out of your way to say "That's dumb, I'd never buy that." Well, here you are. Giving them your money. It's not a mind control switch, it's pavlovs dog. Sure, you have free will, but it can be influenced. They can make it harder for you to say no. They can weaken your will through these advertisements. And that's exactly what they aim to do. Create brand awareness, create the idea that this is one of the 'legitimate options', as if the competition couldn't possibly rank up. And what did they tell you in the advertisements, I mean really, what was the content? Did they go into details about how incredible their product is, showing off all of the scientific data? Did they go into detail about the information on the back of the M&M's packet, showing that they're not just tastier, but healthier too? No. They used a cartoon, or a hot chick, or something else. They played a movie for you. And this is highly more effective at getting us to buy, but not for making better decisions.

    Because the best time to decide to buy something is when you don't feel the pressure, or the craving. Car dealers want you to buy when you feel pressured, when you feel like you've already dumped so much time into the process. M&M doesn't want you to buy when you're looking at the advertisement naked in your house. They want to get you ready, so that when you walk in the store, looking for bread, ah. Look at that, they're on sale.

    This effect does not help us to make better decisions. It instead puts more pressure on our minds. Weakens our will to give into baser desires that occur upon the trigger of a brand identity. Pair this with identity-targeted advertisements, and your in for some horrorshow fun.

    You have to be really, really careful with this stuff. They act as predators, waiting to pounce by creating weaknesses in us that we would never otherwise see coming. Playing on our psychology to move another dollar from our hands to theirs. Some people just watch the super bowl for the funny advertisements. Ever wonder who really pays for the $1million/min ads? It's them. Over the course of years, it's them. Throughout a number of decisions that, if they had simply been given the information and made the decision on their own, they may have otherwise not have spent that money.

    Only decide to buy something in moments without passion. If you feel any pressure at all, walk away. Come back. Are they saying it's a one time only deal, that you've only got this chance right now to save money. Tell them to fuck off. Walk away. Think about it. Stop thinking about it. Think about it again. Sleep. Wait a couple days. Make a Pros and Cons chart. Does it make sense to make this transaction? Normally such a thorough process wouldn't be necessary, but in our current predicament, it's an important first step to make better buying decisions, and better decisions in general. Don't fall for all this treat yourself nonsense that people push, that feeling when you're in the store "Well, I deserve it." Okay, sure. Go home, think about it, and if you still feel that way then come back. If it's not worth coming back for, it's not worth buying at all. But that wouldn't make people more money, so you usually won't hear anyone tell you that.

    Anyway, If you want to delve deeper into this topic check out Brandwashed by Martin Lindstrom. He made his millions doing exactly this, and goes into details about how he and other advertisers manipulate personal and social identities and desires in order to get people to spend more.

    Between the two books and the article mentioned, there's more than enough references to keep going with research. But not only is there enough room for debate on the topic you mentioned, but I'd also like to say that you're really, really fucking incorrect on this one.

    30 votes
    1. nothis
      Link Parent
      Great post! I think this can’t be overestimated: In order to realize this, you have to admit to weakness. You have to drop your pride and admit: You’re helpless towards psychological manipulation....

      Great post!

      I think this can’t be overestimated:

      We're animals, and advertisements train us to behave in certain ways.

      In order to realize this, you have to admit to weakness. You have to drop your pride and admit: You’re helpless towards psychological manipulation. Ironically, our unwillingness to do so is exactly what advertising abuses. We‘d rather obsessively buy M&Ms than admit they tricked us into it.

      11 votes
    2. [2]
      UniquelyGeneric
      Link Parent
      I used to work in a Behavioral Economics lab, where most of our work regarded economic decisions around insurance, the environment, and privacy. However, I did spend part of my time helping in a...

      I used to work in a Behavioral Economics lab, where most of our work regarded economic decisions around insurance, the environment, and privacy. However, I did spend part of my time helping in a Food and Brand lab, which I thought would have more quirky food insights, but instead it was mostly serviced around the 4 P's, particularly place and promotion.

      While I certainly empathize with the desire to avoid advertising, I think my gripe with the sentiment of banning all targeted ads is the impotence of enforcement. It gets really grey once you peel back a layer or two of advertising before you realize that advertising is everywhere. It's cloaked in the innocuous and functional tape for Amazon packages you bought while quarantined. It's printed on the car you drove to the grocery store with the big sign outside, selling the food you eat with a sticker on top...and just about every other object you touched along the way. People themselves choose to advertise "their brand" whether consciously or unconsciously for career growth or social acceptance. Yet these aren't even new phenomena, as birds and flowers have learned the power of advertising for that age-old business of sex.

      I'm not condoning targeted ads as a good thing because they are inevitable; in many ways advertising has perpetuated an anxiety of inadequacy for generations across geographies. Instead, I challenge that if banning targeted ads will be infeasible, what is the true solution? I think for the individual it's education and constant vigilance against persuasive techniques, but to make true progress there should be a systemic shift. The current industry shifts towards privacy are moves in the right direction, but I think a formalization of standards and an agreed-upon framework to leverage personal data is the only way you will gain industry acceptance, and have a glimmer of enforce-ability.

      7 votes
      1. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Policies don´t need to be 100% enforceable to be worthwhile. There are murders every day, but no one is advocating for its legality. We just need a positive outcome. How much is worth the effort...

        Policies don´t need to be 100% enforceable to be worthwhile. There are murders every day, but no one is advocating for its legality.

        We just need a positive outcome. How much is worth the effort is a matter of study.

        1 vote
    3. [4]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      Yeah, I saw this on Reddit, and while like a lot of privacy arguments it's very passionate, I think the actual case made is fairly weak. Comparisons to predators are just an emotional appeal. I...

      Yeah, I saw this on Reddit, and while like a lot of privacy arguments it's very passionate, I think the actual case made is fairly weak. Comparisons to predators are just an emotional appeal.

      I mean, look at the main example. What's the harm to the consumer if they buy M&M's versus some other candy, or some baked goods? I think it's good to cut down on sugar and sweets as a group but specific brand choices are something the manufacturers care about and we shouldn't.

      There have been studies that most people gain weight over Christmas holidays, and I think that's more a culturally embedded thing. As are other holidays. Some of them definitely started as marketing ploys, but almost everyone is a willing accomplice, including well-meaning relatives who can bake, and most of us handing out free candy to children on Halloween.

      The author is right about not buying things just because they're on sale, though.

      6 votes
      1. Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        Over the years I have developed an increasing aversion to advertising to the degree that if anything (or anyone) wants me to buy something urgently, I say no by reflex. This drives my wife nuts. I...

        Over the years I have developed an increasing aversion to advertising to the degree that if anything (or anyone) wants me to buy something urgently, I say no by reflex. This drives my wife nuts. I will sit on purchasing decisions (especially large ones) for weeks or months whereas she can buy something in minutes. It's not even that I spend that time deeply researching the pros and cons, or looking at how ethical a company is. I just want to be really sure that I actually want it, and that I actually need it (even if it's a just for fun item).

        7 votes
      2. Death
        Link Parent
        I think the M&M's example kind of outstays it's welcome, but it's probably necessary to make the post itself more resonant and easier to understand. A better point would probably have been that...

        I think the M&M's example kind of outstays it's welcome, but it's probably necessary to make the post itself more resonant and easier to understand. A better point would probably have been that it's not specifically the choice of M&M's versus other sweets is the issue, but the fact that the brand has the kind of mind-share necessary to lower inhibitions enough so a purchase is instinctively made where refusal may have been the better option, regardless of the actual purchased goods.

        Part of the reason supermarket or other off-brands exist in the first place is to capitalize on this: maybe somebody is enticed to purchase M&M's, but hesitates due to the price, only to find a cheaper version available just next to it.

        One can argue that this is a failure on the part of M&M's marketing and therefore defeats the argument, but I think we should consider that the issue with advertising isn't so much who is on the receiving end of the consumer purchase, but what the more general effects on the population are. (This is one specific issue, of course, not the Ur-problem of all marketing)

        5 votes
      3. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I think the issue is not brand choice, but rather the choice to buy anything at all.

        I think the issue is not brand choice, but rather the choice to buy anything at all.

    4. Eric_the_Cerise
      Link Parent
      The entire post is great, resonates with me. I posted elsewhere in this thread about how all advertising should be limited to physical 'opt-in' models. But I want to remark on this point. Two...

      Wonder why you never bought any of those fifty other brands of chocolate?

      The entire post is great, resonates with me. I posted elsewhere in this thread about how all advertising should be limited to physical 'opt-in' models.

      But I want to remark on this point. Two years ago, I moved from the US to Hungary. Here, I see the aisles of junk food, same as in the US, but 99% are different manufacturers (or at least, different brand names) ... I don't have a lifetime of advertising embedded in my psyche about any of these products. The names, logos, cartoon figures and pretty pictures mean nothing to me. If I want chocolate, I am free to browse these aisles without all that backgr ... crap ... they have Snickers here.

      6 votes
    5. georgebcrawford
      Link Parent
      Thank you so much for that - I had read the initial rebuttal and felt it was kind of weak. This was fantastically written.

      Thank you so much for that - I had read the initial rebuttal and felt it was kind of weak. This was fantastically written.

      5 votes
    6. moonbathers
      Link Parent
      Thanks for cross-posting that. It says so much more than I ever can just repeating that advertising is a cancer on society.

      Thanks for cross-posting that. It says so much more than I ever can just repeating that advertising is a cancer on society.

      3 votes
  2. [3]
    georgebcrawford
    Link
    I am very much a believer in this idea. Don't the player, hate the game! Removing the financial incentive for bad behaviour is key.

    I am very much a believer in this idea. Don't the player, hate the game! Removing the financial incentive for bad behaviour is key.

    10 votes
    1. vord
      Link Parent
      How about both? The rules have only become necessary because of the bad actors. And if I've noticed anything about rules these days, most companies (and many individuals) will only follow them if...

      How about both? The rules have only become necessary because of the bad actors. And if I've noticed anything about rules these days, most companies (and many individuals) will only follow them if the consequences of getting caught are way worse than the benefits of breaking them.

      And if we're going to ban targeted advertising, how about banning all advertising outside of a storefronts entirely? No more billboards carpeting our landscape. No more TV/radio ads. No more spam. You are not incentivized to buy anything unless you've already decided to buy stuff.

      I'm sick of all advertising period. Do away with the lot of it.

      10 votes
    2. bleem
      Link Parent
      honestly im blocking ads because there are so many shady vendors out there and dont screen what ads get shown or if they contain malware

      honestly im blocking ads because there are so many shady vendors out there and dont screen what ads get shown or if they contain malware

      6 votes
  3. [2]
    Atvelonis
    Link
    If you're asking why we don't just ban targeted advertising, it's because politicians are beholden to their constituents, and their constituents just don't care about this. We on Tildes very well...

    If you're asking why we don't just ban targeted advertising, it's because politicians are beholden to their constituents, and their constituents just don't care about this. We on Tildes very well may, but most people have a very surface-level grasp on the concept of the internet to begin with, and a significantly looser one on anything they can't literally see, like a bunch of data points hidden in a spreadsheet somewhere.

    Ask the average college student about their opinion on targeted ads: "Oh, well, I was actually looking for a sweater." But how did it know? Your data is being collected and you're being manipulated without your consent! "Huh, that's a little creepy. Sounds like a Black Mirror episode." And that's it. They might oppose the concept in some vague way, but because this is a very abstract problem—by nature lacking the tangible immediacy of, say, a viral pandemic or the troubles of socioeconomic inequality—it will never, ever receive the attention that it should.

    For the record, I agree that targeting ads based on personal information should be illegal. I believe that it is unethical to manage such data at all, (and especially on a corporate scale), and psychologically problematic for this data to bind people to merchants through advertising. But ad-abolitionism (as it were) is a long way off from becoming reality, and we should not get caught up in our own idealism without first recognizing that the vast majority of the tech-uneducated population needs to be caught up before we can take any major steps in the right direction.

    8 votes
    1. vord
      Link Parent
      On the contrary, their constituents care very much about this. It's just that their constituents are not the public at large, but the people who can best fill their pockets. Corruption runs deep...

      politicians are beholden to their constituents, and their constituents just don't care about this.

      On the contrary, their constituents care very much about this. It's just that their constituents are not the public at large, but the people who can best fill their pockets.

      Corruption runs deep in America.

      Edit: I've written my representatives many times. I've never gotten anything other than a canned response along the lines of "that's nice, but I'm voting for this anyway."

      6 votes
  4. [3]
    Wes
    Link
    Is that true? I knew about the auction system, but I didn't know that each competing company receives information about the user. I thought at most it was granted the winner, and even then it was...

    Usually, when there’s an opportunity to show you an ad, tens or hundreds or thousands of companies compete in an instantaneous and automated auction for your eyeballs. The idea is to connect you with the one who puts the highest value on someone with your precise characteristics. In the course of this auction, all these companies (plus perhaps a dozen intermediaries) gain at least transient access to your personal data.

    Is that true? I knew about the auction system, but I didn't know that each competing company receives information about the user. I thought at most it was granted the winner, and even then it was only transactional data and not personal information.

    I'm skeptical of the claim, but open to being wrong.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      My understanding is that companies will say, "I want to show this ad to white, college-educated women between the ages of 25 and 35 and I'm willing to pay $x per view (or per click, depending on...

      My understanding is that companies will say, "I want to show this ad to white, college-educated women between the ages of 25 and 35 and I'm willing to pay $x per view (or per click, depending on circumstances)." When a web page is being shown to a person who fits that criteria, the auction says, "OK, I need to show an ad to a white, college-educated woman who's 32 years old. Who has the highest bid?" Company X has the highest bid, so their ad is shown. Usually, the app includes some sort of identifier with the above info in it, and probably a unique identifier for you either in a cookie, or as a parameter in the link.

      6 votes
      1. Death
        Link Parent
        To expand on this a little: companies don't actually construct personal dossier of the hundreds of thousands of people they advertise to, but if a target consumer receives identifier X, is shown...

        To expand on this a little: companies don't actually construct personal dossier of the hundreds of thousands of people they advertise to, but if a target consumer receives identifier X, is shown an ad for profile Y, and this is stored in a database somewhere then there exists a point of information which concludes X is the kind of person described by profile Y. And that information, in turn, can be cross-referenced with other information and profiles to construct an increasingly specific picture.

        2 votes
  5. Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    Maybe this deserves its own thread, or maybe it's just me. I see Bigger Picture ... almost the entire advertising industry is based on a physical 'opt-out' model. They literally push ads at us...

    Maybe this deserves its own thread, or maybe it's just me.

    I see Bigger Picture ... almost the entire advertising industry is based on a physical 'opt-out' model. They literally push ads at us anytime/place they think they might be able to catch our attention. We choose to opt-out by physically averting our eyes, muting, fast-forwarding, throwing out the junk mail, etc.

    I think advertising should be legally constrained to an opt-in model ... "I want/need to shop for something. Let me now choose to go look at the advertising for the kinds of products (and nothing else, thank you) that I'm looking for."

    That's how advertising should work.

    Coupons, those ad flyers you can (choose to) pick up at the supermarket ... that's what 'opt-in' advertising looks like. We need that for the Internet.

    6 votes
  6. [10]
    skybrian
    Link
    Completely untargeted advertising is incredibly wasteful since you're showing your ads to people who are very unlikely to buy your product. Banning all targeting would mean that only search...

    Completely untargeted advertising is incredibly wasteful since you're showing your ads to people who are very unlikely to buy your product. Banning all targeting would mean that only search engines can show useful ads, based on keywords. That might be good for Google and Amazon though.

    A better compromise would be to limit targeting to broad demographic categories.

    But this all seems kind of irrelevant because most people aren't buying much, currently.

    1 vote
    1. [7]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [6]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        That's fair, but "personal data" is kind of vague. Like, how personal is your zip code? The problem is that if you combine enough data points then it's too precise. One way to restrict this is to...

        That's fair, but "personal data" is kind of vague. Like, how personal is your zip code?

        The problem is that if you combine enough data points then it's too precise. One way to restrict this is to make sure that ads can be targeted no more precisely than to, say, a few thousand people. The academic term for this is k-anonymity.

        5 votes
        1. UniquelyGeneric
          Link Parent
          Age, gender, and zip code are likely enough to personally identify a large portion of the United States. While the back-of-the-envelope calculation I linked isn't exact science, per se, I work in...

          Like, how personal is your zip code?

          Age, gender, and zip code are likely enough to personally identify a large portion of the United States. While the back-of-the-envelope calculation I linked isn't exact science, per se, I work in the field and I can assure you every data point counts. While systems today haven't all been built to cue off of the minutiae of each individual's browsing patterns, it's definitely heading that way as the industry responds to increased scrutiny, and the need to perform targeted advertising grows.

          While there's a lot of talk about Differential Privacy, there aren't as many business cases for it because the usefulness of the data only goes so far before becoming unusable due to the level of anonymity provided. Many businesses cannot sell/share this data because of the large margins of error introduced (albeit, by design). It's a neat way to do internal analytics, but I haven't seen it as a silver bullet for privacy advocates.

          IMHO, while there are ways to target larger segments of the population, the monetary incentive for more granular targeting will keep this privacy cat and mouse game going for a long time.

          7 votes
        2. [2]
          Comment deleted by author
          Link Parent
          1. skybrian
            Link Parent
            How it used to be is that direct-marketing bought mailing lists and sent you junk mail. That can certainly be done by zip code or more targeted by specific location.

            How it used to be is that direct-marketing bought mailing lists and sent you junk mail. That can certainly be done by zip code or more targeted by specific location.

            1 vote
        3. [2]
          Wes
          Link Parent
          Chrome's "privacy budget" concept may apply here as well.

          Chrome's "privacy budget" concept may apply here as well.

          3 votes
          1. Chancelloriate
            Link Parent
            Interesting! I hadn't heard of the privacy budget concept until now. For those who want a quick background: Source:...

            Interesting! I hadn't heard of the privacy budget concept until now. For those who want a quick background:

            Google also plans to implement a so-called "privacy budget." This will work by limiting the number of API calls (advertising) domains can make about a user.
            The idea with a privacy budget is that an advertiser won't be able to use ads on different sites and track the user navigating the internet, as their domain's privacy budget will eventually expire, and limit the advertiser's view inside a user's internet browsing habits.

            Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/chrome-devs-propose-privacy-sandbox-to-balance-ad-targeting-user-privacy/

            3 votes
        4. Death
          Link Parent
          I think part of the solution is specifically aimed at prohibiting the possibility of combining enough data points by not allowing the transfer of customer profiles between third parties. Currently...

          I think part of the solution is specifically aimed at prohibiting the possibility of combining enough data points by not allowing the transfer of customer profiles between third parties. Currently k-anonymity is a workable yet flawed solution because it can still be defeated with enough data and processing time. If that flow of data is stopped it becomes much harder to identify somebody within a k-anonymized table. That would also make the issue of exactly defining "personal data" less relevant, at least as far as marketing practices are concerned.

          1 vote
    2. [3]
      Death
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I don't think a compromise is necessary or better. The proposed measure seems to leave enough room and sacrifices little of actual value. There might be discussion on it's finer details possible...

      I don't think a compromise is necessary or better. The proposed measure seems to leave enough room and sacrifices little of actual value. There might be discussion on it's finer details possible but all in all I think both the consumer and the provider will adjust nicely.

      In my view "untargeted advertising is wasteful" is not a compelling argument to anyone but the people buying the advertisements, it's essentially a different angle on the received corporate wisdom of "targeted ads work better and people prefer them" the article argues against. There's no more reason to believe consumers actively prefer targeted ads over non-targeted ones when given the choice, or that they experience their absence as a loss. Or at the very least: the body of evidence only very poorly supports this conclusion.

      Besides: targeting isn't even necessarily a novel concept: radio, television, and print all use metrics to decide ad pricing and entice specific companies, and for a long time this resulted in similarly "wasteful" advertisement in a situation we still thought largely manageable. I think you might see a lot of platforms return to this older model, rather than outsourcing it to the tech giants. Specifically marketing their own metrics to entice ad buyers, it's very possible the big tech companies will even stay on as brokers in these exchanges (as they already, arguably, are). We may see other issues arising from this but I do not agree that this would be a regression.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        skybrian
        Link Parent
        Affordability of advertising does matter to small businesses. A local restaurant isn't going to want to pay pay for a national campaign, for example. If you don't have at least some targeting then...

        Affordability of advertising does matter to small businesses. A local restaurant isn't going to want to pay pay for a national campaign, for example. If you don't have at least some targeting then only big companies can afford it.

        1. Death
          Link Parent
          In my experiences small businesses only slightly benefit from targeted advertising in most cases. In no small part because to do so effectively still requires some degree of expertise. Instead the...

          In my experiences small businesses only slightly benefit from targeted advertising in most cases. In no small part because to do so effectively still requires some degree of expertise. Instead the main vectors remain word-of-mouth and "organic" growth through social media outreach and SEO, which wouldn't actually change that much. Locally too, one of the bigger vectors for restaurants (according to a friend's account) is services like Google Maps and local guides rather than AdSense advertising or targeted Facebook ads.

          As far as I'm aware targeted advertising is much more of a benefit for businesses which fall outside traditional structures and have less of a geographically concentrated customer base, like e-commerce or online services.

          1 vote
  7. vektor
    Link
    Without spending too much time reading up on the discussion here, I'll just say that I think that targeted advertising offers some added value to consumers - it greatly increases discoverability...

    Without spending too much time reading up on the discussion here, I'll just say that I think that targeted advertising offers some added value to consumers - it greatly increases discoverability and information on the more niche products that I might be interested in. The internet is big and I can't possibly be aware of every offer out there, so some help is good. That is of course overshadowed by the major effect of increasing inefficient or unnecessary spending of my part. So far, so nothing new.

    Here's a thought: Can we separate the good from the bad? Can my computer gather all the data on my internet habits across devices, be the data kraken that Big Data is right now and then use that to my benefit? Anonymously pull in offers from companies that might interest me. Present to me objective information. "Did you know X product exists?" "X offers the same as your current provider Y, and they're cheaper." An ethical program calling the shots on what to show or what not to. Futuristic? Probably, on both the tech and social front. Society's got some growing up to do before we consumers can meaningfully wield the power we actually have.

    On a related note, next time I'm looking for an ISP, I'll call around and ask for a no-bullshit contract. Whoever offers me the least bullshit at an acceptable price gets the deal. I'm particularly interested in them rescinding a hot take of a particular piece of consumer protection legislation they seem to be running with these days, and I don't want them to offer a "first year is free, you're contractually bound for two years, regular rates are kinda ridiculous" type deal, it just forces me to switch providers every two years. Who wants that?

    1 vote
  8. Artemix
    Link
    To be fair, banning that will probably do nothing. They already ignore the entire world's laws and usually don't pay the fines they receive.

    To be fair, banning that will probably do nothing.

    They already ignore the entire world's laws and usually don't pay the fines they receive.

  9. Kuromantis
    Link
    IMO I think we should just narrow down to a specific set of data you can use to advertise and bar large enough companies from advertising. If we set strict limits on what data can be used and...

    IMO I think we should just narrow down to a specific set of data you can use to advertise and bar large enough companies from advertising. If we set strict limits on what data can be used and force companies to acknowledge this then we can start the oh-so-needed debate on privacy.

    If we bar big companies from advertising small/local companies can be given a competitive advantage and given how numerous they are, they'll have to be unique.

    We could also force corporations to categorize their advertisments and maybe let social media/forum groups limit what kind of advertisements are allowed and block those of certain corporations as a 'boycott' button. (like a diet group blocking all food advertisements)

    Granted a lot of this is subjective and definitely needs to be well-defined.

  10. Staross
    Link
    Ban advertisement altogether and replace it by publicly subsidized consumer information, review magazines, etc. stuff like Consumer Reports (I don't know if it's good, but you get the idea) :

    Ban advertisement altogether and replace it by publicly subsidized consumer information, review magazines, etc. stuff like Consumer Reports (I don't know if it's good, but you get the idea) :

    Consumer Reports (CR), formerly Consumers Union (CU), is an American nonprofit organization dedicated to unbiased product testing, investigative journalism, consumer-oriented research, public education, and consumer advocacy.