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Advertising Businesses

Is Advertising Morally Justifiable? The Importance of Protecting Our Attention 351

theodp writes: With Is Advertising Morally Justifiable?, philosopher Thomas Wells is out to change the way you think about Google and its ilk. Wells says: "Advertising is a natural resource extraction industry, like a fishery. Its business is the harvest and sale of human attention. We are the fish and we are not consulted. Two problems result from this. The solution to both requires legal recognition of the property rights of human beings over our attention. First, advertising imposes costs on individuals without permission or compensation. It extracts our precious attention and emits toxic by-products, such as the sale of our personal information to dodgy third parties. Second, you may have noticed that the world's fisheries are not in great shape. They are a standard example for explaining the theoretical concept of a tragedy of the commons, where rational maximising behaviour by individual harvesters leads to the unsustainable overexploitation of a resource. Expensively trained human attention is the fuel of twenty-first century capitalism. We are allowing a single industry to slash and burn vast amounts of this productive resource in search of a quick buck."
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Is Advertising Morally Justifiable? The Importance of Protecting Our Attention

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  • So of course I had to check the advertising disable checkbox.... ;-)

    • Re:No it is not (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:52PM (#50141883) Homepage Journal

      Exactly. The "we" discussed in TFS, and presumably in whatever it is summarizing, is not me, and therefore as far as I am concerned, resolve to a "them", as in, the person(s) who wrote it.

      I don't pay any attention to advertising at all unless I am proactively seeking a product in a store, virtual or otherwise, and then only to specific instances that are relevant.

      I don't watch broadcast television, I don't read billboards, I completely ignore banners and side-column ads, I don't open mail that isn't from a lawyer, a utility or some faction of the government, and I neither care what people want to put in ads nor am I affected by said content.

      The only effect web ads have on me, at least until the IP shows up in my hosts list, is to slow pages down. Once it gets into the hosts list, it turns into an error message instead of an ad, and I ignore those too, while my browsing speeds back up (if you're not using your hosts file to nuke advertisers and their cookie-mining minions, you're foregoing a great tool, presuming you don't actually want to see ads, which I suppose is not a given.)

      The only way they'll actually get my attention is with a sexy lady, and as the industry's kowtowing to political correctness has caused them to divest themselves of that particular tool, the advertisers, "they get nothing."

      • Re: No it is not (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 19, 2015 @08:40PM (#50142069)

        "I don't pay any attention to advertising at all unless I am proactively seeking a product in a store"

        That's just the thing. You think you aren't, but you are, you're just not aware of it at a conscious level. And that is advertising's ultimate goal -- subconscious suggestion. It's an art form really. You've probably made thousands of decisions that have been very subtly manipulated by corporations, without you ever even knowing. IMO that is the reason why advertising is morally reprehensible. It's manipulative mass mind control.

        • Re: No it is not (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ramadog ( 535075 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @09:07PM (#50142209)
          Unfortunately I am inclined to agree with this. Like the post you are responding to I try to ignore the ads and block a lot when I can. I still find sometimes when I want something and think of a brand to later realise it is a brand I saw from advertising. Same with product placement in stores.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I tend to go out of my way to make brand choices while shopping that I don't think I have seen advertising for.

        • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

          You've probably made thousands of decisions that have been very subtly manipulated by corporations, without you ever even knowing. IMO that is the reason why advertising is morally reprehensible. It's manipulative mass mind control.

          Still, you only buy something if you believe it is worth the money. No ad holds a gun to your head and forces you to make a purchase. They only suggest that something is worth purchasing or that their brand is better than the competition... you ultimately make the decision what to buy, and most importantly, whether to buy it in the first place.

          If you have a problem purchasing something that you don't really find valuable, then that's only saying something about you. An alcoholic can't blame bars for exis

          • Re: No it is not (Score:5, Insightful)

            by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @01:18AM (#50143165) Homepage

            Ads are not designed to inform they are specifically designed to psychologically manipulate the individual and work best with repetition. So the question boils down to whether or no people or company can use any platform to actively psychological manipulate them against their own interest and would should be the legal liability when they manipulation causes psychological harm, especially when targeted at minors. So ads should be restricted to the claim they make, they should only inform the public about the product or service with no embellishment, sort of like plain packaging.

            Next up the idea of disingenuous advertisements, where all sorts of false claims and ideas are presented about products with regard to value (whether it is good value or you are being ripped off with inflated profit margins), quality of product (the quality is as claimed or implied), serviceability (whether it is as useful as claimed), durability and reliability (whether it will last well beyond the end of warranty of fail shortly there in after), fit for purpose (whether if can do what it claims it can do). Beyond that the whole marketing chain should be liable for false claims, those who pay for the advertisements, those who show the advertisements and those who produce the advertisements. Special note and penalties should apply to those who show the advertisements for profit, they are promoting the product for profit, hence they should be financially liable for falsities included in those advertisements.

          • Re: No it is not (Score:5, Insightful)

            by PatientZero ( 25929 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @01:22AM (#50143177)

            Still, you only buy something if you believe it is worth the money. No ad holds a gun to your head and forces you to make a purchase. They only suggest that something is worth purchasing or that their brand is better than the competition... you ultimately make the decision what to buy, and most importantly, whether to buy it in the first place.

            Modern advertising and PR learned quite a bit from the propaganda on both sides during WW2. It chooses music and images to elicit specific emotions such as feeling that something is missing in your life, or you're too fat, or that with this product people will like you. Have you noticed the recent uptick in television advertisements featuring veterans that have absolutely nothing to do with veterans?

            "Oh thank God! She made it home in one piece, and her dog missed her so much. Now go buy whatever-the-fuck dogfood we're selling or you don't support our troops!"

            Sure, there's no gun to your head. But the industry wouldn't spend billions of dollars doing it if it didn't increase sales. And every year they research new techniques to tug on your heartstrings or make you feel inadequate, and then they show you the product that will fill that void. Your mind is being programmed at every opportunity, and I believe you should have to opt in to it only if you want.

          • Re: No it is not (Score:5, Informative)

            by tburkhol ( 121842 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @09:02AM (#50144399)

            Still, you only buy something if you believe it is worth the money. No ad holds a gun to your head and forces you to make a purchase. They only suggest that something is worth purchasing or that their brand is better than the competition... you ultimately make the decision what to buy, and most importantly, whether to buy it in the first place.

            Very few consumers are rational. Pet rocks were an actual thing. People buy stuff because they think it's worth the money, or because they think everyone else has one, or because they're bored.

            Have you ever seen a kid when ice cream truck music starts playing? Those kids don't want a popsicle from the freezer - they want the exact same popsicle from the ice cream truck at three times the price. Adults get a little better at suppressing that kind of irrational act, but we're still susceptible to it. Even people who believe they make purchases only after coldly tabulating the marginal enjoyment of one more M&M against the penny it costs.

        • "I don't pay any attention to advertising at all unless I am proactively seeking a product in a store"

          That's just the thing. You think you aren't, but you are, you're just not aware of it at a conscious level.

          While this is true, one still needs to actually encounter ads to be influenced by them. I think many people on Slashdot who "don't pay any attention to advertising at all" aren't just people who say they don't watch commercials or look at the flashing ads on the side of a website -- they actually don't watch broadcast TV at all and run ad blockers that filter out 99% of ads.

          I really have little clue what the "popular brands" are for most items, because I simply don't see much advertising at all.... not t

          • by TWX ( 665546 )
            I spent about five years in the late Nineties and early Noughties without a TV tuner. On and off we had cable TV then back to over-the-air when we realized that we had a hundred channels and nothing was worth watching, and while we watch some TV now it's nothing like it was at the peak. We use adblock and flashblock and I use noscript, and I'm occasionally surprised when other people talk about TV shows and ads that I've never seen. I probably hear more ads on the radio when I'm driving around or are out
        • That is why 1) noscript 2) adblock 3) two screens while watching TV, 1 for the film and 1 for browsing or doing stuff while advertising runs.
          pretty much the only advertising I see are the rare panels on the side road, 99% of which are for product which I will never use. In fact I would be unable to tell you what current ad runs at the moment anywhere.

          For the better or the worst, I am cut off from advertising. As for taking decision subconsciously , it is highly overrated. Sure you may influence overall p
      • Re:No it is not (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @09:27PM (#50142285) Journal

        I don't pay any attention to advertising at all unless I am proactively seeking a product in a store, virtual or otherwise, and then only to specific instances that are relevant.

        I don't watch broadcast television, I don't read billboards, I completely ignore banners and side-column ads

        Modern marketing techniques are designed for people like you. They're specifically made for people who don't pay attention to ads.

        Nobody who lives in any community more dense than the human population of Kobuk Valley National Park is immune from the impact of modern marketing techniques. And I find it's the people who believe they are immune from advertising who are least prepared to defend themselves from its effects.

        The only way they'll actually get my attention is with a sexy lady, and as the industry's kowtowing to political correctness has caused them to divest themselves of that particular tool

        Wow, is that really what you think?

        https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

        I don't watch broadcast television, I don't read billboards, I completely ignore banners and side-column ads, I don't open mail that isn't from a lawyer, a utility or some faction of the government, and I neither care what people want to put in ads nor am I affected by said content.

        Then how the fuck would you know about the "industry's kowtowing to political correctness" causing them to divest themselves of sexy women in ads? Were you lying then or are you lying now?

        Did you even know that Ridged Tools still publishes it's calendar of sexy ladies every year? Sports Illustrated still makes with the camel toe every February. I just watched a few minutes of the British Open on CBS and there was an ad for Mercedes with an entire line of supermodels in skimpy outfits.

        Friend, instead of imagining what the "PC Police" are doing to your eye-candy, you might want to take some time out to evaluate your strategy for "ignoring" advertising, because the people who are involved with modern advertising techniques are smarter than you and me and Neil Degrasse Tyson when it comes to getting people who "don't watch broadcast TV" to respond to their campaigns. They know what they're doing and they know that it works.

        You'd be better off accepting the effect that advertising is having on you, being aware of it, and actively subverting it. Adbusters is a good place to start. Otherwise, you'll still be reaching for the brand name and not knowing why.

        • I don't watch broadcast television, I don't read billboards, I completely ignore banners and side-column ads

          Modern marketing techniques are designed for people like you. They're specifically made for people who don't pay attention to ads.

          How exactly do the advertisers manage to design ads that will get through to GP who "doesn't watch broadcast television"? If GP doesn't see as many ads, he'll be less influenced by them, no?

          I, like GP, don't tend to even notice ads off to the side. It's like my eyes are almost "allergic" to them. And your contention that they affect me significantly just doesn't seem to be borne out by how I actually purchase products. Do some of them have SOME subliminal effect? I'm sure. But nowhere near your wack

          • Re:No it is not (Score:4, Insightful)

            by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @10:58PM (#50142655) Journal

            How exactly do the advertisers manage to design ads that will get through to GP who "doesn't watch broadcast television"? If GP doesn't see as many ads, he'll be less influenced by them, no?

            Advertising is ubiquitous and advertisers figured out a long time ago that you don't need someone's full attention to influence behavior.

            Forget websites. Forget television. You are affected by ads when you drive down the street or watching your kids playing a sporting event.

            I'm telling you, if you scratch the surface of someone who claims to be completely unaffected by advertising, you're going to find someone who's making a lot more subconscious purchasing decisions than you would expect.

        • Modern marketing techniques are designed for people like you. They're specifically made for people who don't pay attention to ads.

          So? Doesn't matter who they are designed for. What matters is if they work on me. They don't.

          Nobody who lives in any community more dense than the human population of Kobuk Valley National Park is immune from the impact of modern marketing techniques.

          Yes, I live in a very rural area, and further, I keep to my own property as much as possible and have done so for just a little s

      • I don't watch broadcast television, I don't read billboards, I completely ignore banners and side-column ads, I don't open mail that isn't from a lawyer, a utility or some faction of the government, and I neither care what people want to put in ads nor am I affected by said content.

        I have a similar view, try to avoid unwanted solicitations at all opportunities, but I wouldn't pretend to believe that none of it gets through. Even if you personally live in a bubble, you are exposed indirectly by the people around you. eg I don't know who Channing Tatum is, wouldn't recognise him if I fell over him, I've never actively watched or listened to any Hollywood, Celeb or Gossip type media, and rarely watch Hollywood type movies. But for some reason I know his name. I assume he is a famous cele

      • Re:No it is not (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bingoUV ( 1066850 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @07:10AM (#50144003)

        Without looking at it, how can you figure out it is an advertisement or a caution / direction sign / legal announcement / public service announcement? You cannot.

        Once you do look at it and it turns out to be an advertisement, you can continue your earlier thought process but your attention has been stolen from you, however little you value it.

    • In all seriousness, I do not use ad blockers, and I have the "disable advertising" off, although it is offered to me. I view my use of a web site and their ads the same way as walking into a restaurant and paying for the meal. They are putting content into a rectangle, and if I like the content, I will return. Some smaller groups provide free food or community supported food (heck, I do that on Wednesday game nights at my home), and some smaller sites provide free content. But in general, it's part of

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:31PM (#50141785)

    "The United States has it's own propaganda, but it's very effective because people don't realize that it's propaganda. And it's subtle, but it's actually a much stronger propaganda machine than the Nazis had but it's funded in a different way. With the Nazis it was funded by the government, but in the United States, it's funded by corporations and corporations they only want things to happen that will make people want to buy stuff. So whatever that is, then that is considered okay and good, but that doesn't necessarily mean it really serves people's thinking - it can stupify and make not very good things happen."
    - Crispin Glover: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm000... [imdb.com]

    #

    "You do a commercial, you're off the artistic roll call forever. End of story, OK? You're another corporate shill, you're another whore at the capitalist gang bang."

    - ("Artistic Roll Call," Bill Hicks Rant in E-Minor (1997)).

    #

    Memorable quotes for
    Looker (1981)
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt00... [imdb.com]

    #

    "John Reston: Television can control public opinion more effectively than armies of secret police, because television is entirely voluntary. The American government forces our children to attend school, but nobody forces them to watch T.V. Americans of all ages *submit* to television. Television is the American ideal. Persuasion without coercion. Nobody makes us watch. Who could have predicted that a *free* people would voluntarily spend one fifth of their lives sitting in front of a *box* with pictures? Fifteen years sitting in prison is punishment. But 15 years sitting in front of a television set is entertainment. And the average American now spends more than one and a half years of his life just watching television commercials. Fifty minutes, every day of his life, watching commercials. Now, that's power."

    #

    "It's only logical to assume that conspiracies are everywhere, because that's what people do. They conspire. If you can't get the message, get the man." - Mel Gibson (from an interview)

    #

    "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." - William Casey, CIA Director

    #

    "The real reason for the official secrecy, in most instances, is not to keep the opposition (the CIA's euphemistic term for the enemy) from knowing what is going on; the enemy usually does know. The basic reason for governmental secrecy is to keep you, the American public, from knowing - for you, too, are considered the opposition, or enemy - so that you cannot interfere. When the public does not know what the government or the CIA is doing, it cannot voice its approval or disapproval of their actions. In fact, they can even lie to your about what they are doing or have done, and you will not know it. As for the second advantage, despite frequent suggestion that the CIA is a rogue elephant, the truth is that the agency functions at the direction of and in response to the office of the president. All of its major clandestine operations are carried out with the direct approval of or on direct orders from the White House. The CIA is a secret tool of the president - every president. And every president since Truman has lied to the American people in order to protect the agency. When lies have failed, it has been the duty of the CIA to take the blame for the president, thus protecting him. This is known in the business as "plausible denial." The CIA, functioning as a secret instrument of the U.S. government and the presidency, has long misused and abused history and continues to do so."
    - Victor Marchetti, Propaganda and Disinformation: How the CIA Manufactures History

    #

    George Carlin:

    "The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choic

  • Absolutely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by maz2331 ( 1104901 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:34PM (#50141799)

    It is pretty much the only way to fund "free" services of all kinds that have large reach but no direct income. Radio, TV, and most websites would not exist but for it, and it is a meritocracy as well - if the advertized product sucks, or the ad sucks, the advertiser loses their money with no reward. The opposite holds as well - a good product and a good ad can be very beneficial to customers and the advertiser.

    Someone needs to cut back on the weed and spend some time in the world of reality here to even bring up the question.

    • Re:Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by musmax ( 1029830 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:49PM (#50141869)
      "3. Counter-counter arguments: How economists defend advertising and why it isn't enough The existence of the advertising industry poses something of a challenge to the ideology of free market economics since it seems to go against the principles of consumer sovereignty and consumer welfare (efficiency). Two justifications are prominent in the defence of advertising. First, that it is directly valuable for consumers because it communicates valuable information. Second, that it funds universal access to "club goods" (like television shows and internet services) whose production is socially valued but would otherwise not be financially viable. There is some merit to both of these, but I think they are far from sufficient."

      Someone needs to rtfa.
    • Radio and TV are artificially expensive. The only reason they require ads or donor support is because the government has set up a completely unnecessary series of extremely high financial walls that must be leapt.

      I could set you up a perfectly good AM or FM or television broadcast station for about $100, including a pretty good antenna sufficient for very broad local reach, say 30 miles or so. For a bit more, we can up the power and antenna significantly, and that's the end of your expenses. You can put up

      • Or, create expensive content, again, now you need funding. But that would be a choice.

        But radio and TV would be just fine without advertisers. Content would almost certainly change. Likely much for the better, IMHO.

        Couldn't you already do that and save a shitload of money not paying for content then? I mean you would need a relatively tiny amount of advertising to cover your costs if you didn't need to pay for any content. And if it's a change for the better then why isn't anybody doing it?

        The problem is that most people that are complaining about advertising are doing so because the free content (that doesn't need advertising) sucks, they want the ad-supported content but don't want to have to support it.

      • Until you and everyone else in the neighbourhood sets up their own shitty broadcasts all over the top of each other as there is only a finite about of frequencies and the entire spectrum is saturated with white noise. So you start needing a powerstation and a GW transmitter to be detectable above all the other people and we are back where we started with needing big money to be a broadcaster and get heard.

      • we can up the power and antenna significantly, and that's the end of your expenses.

        Your competitors will ramp up their power, and then you will ramp yours up some more and then they will be drowned out and decide to ramp theirs up...

        But it all works out well, because we can save money on radios and just listen to your station through our fillings.

    • Formalizing the meritocracy a bit: How about a "consumers' union" [no relation to the org/mag] website that works like a central clearing house:

      - Any member can post a boycott request, with an explanation as to why: bad product, invasive advertising (popups, etc.)
      - Members upvote the request by signing on to the boycott
      - No downvotes to prevent astroturfing by the advertisers
      - With enough votes, all members agree to boycott the product/advertiser for the given period (say 1-5 years)

      This is how change.org

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      And also realize that in many cases there is a for-pay alternative that's been almost universally rejected. "Free" e-mail? There's services you could pay for, who don't need to rifle through your pockets for a marketing profile. Yet for every one person who pays or runs his own server there's a hundred or a thousand signing up to GMail, Yahoo, Outlook (ex-Hotmail) and so on. How many will gladly pass up any news site with a paywall and get it for "free" from an ad-funded one? People are cheap, they just lik

    • And increasingly there are free mobile applications that have advertising in them or you can choose the alternative funding model and pay for the version that does not have advertising. Do we really want the advertising revenue stream to disappear for content developers and for all internet content to be behind paywalls?
      • by epine ( 68316 )

        Do we really want the advertising revenue stream to disappear for content developers and for all internet content to be behind paywalls?

        If we view advertising as a net negative burden on cognition and productivity (there's scientific literature to support this view), and explicit, informed choice as a net human asset (there's virulent ideology to support this view), I'd have to say "yes".

        The wheel-house of our lizard brain appears to be managing our past and future sexual entanglements. I personally suspec

        • Do we really want the advertising revenue stream to disappear for content developers and for all internet content to be behind paywalls?

          If we view advertising as a net negative burden on cognition and productivity (there's scientific literature to support this view), and explicit, informed choice as a net human asset (there's virulent ideology to support this view), I'd have to say "yes".

          That would certainly limit the accessibility of the information to those privileged enough to be able to afford it. But then again you can have both and allow the free market to decide.

    • by Locando ( 131600 )

      It is pretty much the only way to fund "free" services of all kinds that have large reach but no direct income. Radio, TV, and most websites would not exist but for it (...)

      Even if we take this as a given, why are you then taking it as a given that it's ultimately beneficial to have free commercial media but also have advertising? Not just the media and ads you deem good, but the entire system we're describing. There's nothing inherently worthy about these products — they're just means of making money which may or may not be beneficial to society. And of course that's not counting the possibility of commercial media that's funded in ways other than advertising, or non-co

      • You know, the thing about free trade is that when people are free to trade they only do so when they believe that it is beneficial for them to do so.

        Viewing advertising is just another kind of cost. Its still trade.

        The upshot is that so long as people are free to trade then trades are generally mutually beneficial. The advertiser wins, and the consumer playing that "free" game or watching that "free" program wins. They both win. Its win-win.

        Not a zero sum game. The idea that society might lose is ulti
    • There are different ways to fun the free stuff. One is to be respectful and polite, the old way. The other is to be obnoxious jerks, introduce malware, introduce mandatory viewing of the ads, borrow the viewers own resources to show the ads, etc, the new way.

      • One is to be respectful and polite, the old way.

        So, the bums playing shitty music on the sidewalk, begging for handouts is what people should aspire to?

    • Radio, TV, and most websites would not exist but for it, and it is a meritocracy as well - if the advertized product sucks, or the ad sucks, the advertiser loses their money with no reward. The opposite holds as well - a good product and a good ad can be very beneficial to customers and the advertiser.

      It depends on your definition of "meritocracy." To me, a meritocracy is when the best things rise to the top. To you, a meritocracy is when the "lowest common denominator" products rise to the top.

      For example, I don't think a lot of TV ads exist for fine dining restaurants, artisan craft foods and beverages, or other high quality items. Instead, ads are saturated with wars between McDonalds and Burger King, between Budweiser and Coors, and between Cheetos and Fritos (and Doritos... and...).

      You really

    • by Tom ( 822 )

      It is pretty much the only way to fund "free" services of all kinds that have large reach but no direct income

      No, it is not.

      Advertisement created this idea of free services being paid by advertisement. There was a different time in this world, when you paid for your newspaper at the kiosk, and if you wanted to have a website for your journal, you would pay a hosting company.

      There were also shared-cost services long before things became commerzialised. Back in FIDOnet days, email was transported by phone lines, and a bunch of people would come together, one of them set up a small server that would do the long-distan

    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

      Exactly ". First, advertising imposes costs on individuals without permission or compensation."
      You usually get entertainment and or information in compensation.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
    1. Only to the extent you allow it. With a few simple steps, you can live a practically ad-free existence. If you can't be arsed, you get what you get.

    2. Don't pretend you don't get something for your attention. To be effective, advertising must keep you at least mildly amused for some amount of time. Take for example, GoPro or Red Bull's ads. Not familiar with them? Go ahead and google them. I'll wait. Aaah! Almost got you! See 1. Anywhoo, some guy with their logos plastered all over him doing some amazi

    • Re:Meh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:46PM (#50141851) Homepage Journal

      Yes to #1, take your TV, throw it out the window. Tune your radio to NPR, install Ad Block, Flash Block, uBlock, Ghostery, etc. on your web browser. You will be shocked - SHOCKED - to find out from your friends when the latest summer blockbuster movies are coming out.
       
      When I moved out of the house at 19 I did not take a TV with me, and I did not miss it. Only at 29 did I buy a TV, and only then so I could watch Netflix on a larger screen, in my living room.

      • Yes to #1, take your TV, throw it out the window.

        That would be crazy. I have a Wii connected to it so that I can watch Netflix. It is kind of a horrible thing to use for that purpose, but I don't have to spend any additional money to use it. It does occasionally hang while playing a video and make a noise like a fire alarm until you pull the power cord out of its asshole...

        When I moved out of the house at 19 I did not take a TV with me, and I did not miss it. Only at 29 did I buy a TV, and only then so I could watch Netflix on a larger screen, in my living room.

        A big TV is a cool thing to play a driving game on. Sure, you can almost count pixels from across the room at 1080p, but when things are moving it's not really noticeable.

        • That would be crazy. I have a Wii connected to it so that I can watch Netflix. It is kind of a horrible thing to use for that purpose, but I don't have to spend any additional money to use it. It does occasionally hang while playing a video and make a noise like a fire alarm until you pull the power cord out of its asshole...

          Wait, it does what now? The TV hangs or the Wii? And what's making the fire alarm noise? Have you by some chance been playing an indie game called "Smoke Detector Chronicles 2"?

          • Wait, it does what now? The TV hangs or the Wii?

            The Wii hangs, and makes a horrible noise. This only happens while watching Netflix. I googled around, and it is apparently somewhat common. I have already opened my Wii and re-applied thermal compound so I hope it's not that

        • You're right about the TV. We have one. We've never connected an antenna to it, and we don't have cable. But it's never been 'cool' to talk much about 'not watching television,' in fact they've managed to turn it into a meme and a point of ridicule to poke fun at people who say they don't watch television.

      • Yes to #1, take your TV, throw it out the window. Tune your radio to NPR, install Ad Block, Flash Block, uBlock, Ghostery, etc. on your web browser. You will be shocked - SHOCKED - to find out from your friends when the latest summer blockbuster movies are coming out.

        You cannot avoid advertising unless you spend your life in an isolation tank.

    • I just don't engage with advertising, because I do feel I have better things to give my attention to. I run Ad Block, Ghostery on the web, I mute ads on live TV, I skip ads on recorded TV. If an ad is unavoidable (e.g. live radio stream), chances are good that it will trigger a channel change.

      If I want some product, I'll research it myself. Advertising is very unpersuasive. In fact it's likely, in my case, to have the opposite effect, especially if it's unsubtle, repetitive and annoying.

      I accept adverti
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:37PM (#50141817) Homepage Journal

    The best thing you can say about Advertising is that it is a waste of human effort. The highest form of advertising is when you get to be completely misleading without breaking any laws. When your noblest goal is to deceive, you are probably morally bankrupt. Advertising is simply another disgusting artifact of our culture of greed, by which I mean capitalism.

    • by deKernel ( 65640 ) <timfbarberNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday July 19, 2015 @08:13PM (#50141965)

      I am not sure if you are trolling or not, but I guess I will bite so here goes. I believe you have "highest" and "lowest" confused. The highest form of advertising is when you connect a buyer and a seller to which both strike a deal (purchase) that both feel satisfied. The lowest (your highest) is basically fraud where a seller completely misleads the buyer as to what they are going to purchase....and there are laws against such deals. If you truly feel that advertising is a "...disgusting artifact of our culture of greed..." then I can tell you have never been involved in actually starting/running/growing a business because without some form of advertising, typically it just won't happen. Now, you slam on capitalism is quite funny since there is a considerable amount of advertising in non-capitalistic countries...or haven't you been out much.

      • Now, you slam on capitalism is quite funny since there is a considerable amount of advertising in non-capitalistic countries...

        You mean religious propaganda?

        or haven't you been out much.

        Not much, no. Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, besides the USA. But I have access to the internets.

        • by deKernel ( 65640 )

          I am not talking about religious propaganda but normal business advertising. So you are telling me when you walk down the streets of any bigger city in Panama, Costa Rica or Mexico that you don't see business signs....opened a newspaper and not see business's coupons...or even opened the nice little pamphlet that the hotels place in the rooms telling about local recreation or restaurants?

          To date, I have see all of the above in Belize, Guyana, countless Caribbean islands, Japan and Thailand.

          • I am not talking about religious propaganda but normal business advertising. So you are telling me when you walk down the streets of any bigger city in Panama, Costa Rica or Mexico that you don't see business signs

            What does that have to do with non-capitalistic countries?

            • by deKernel ( 65640 )

              Sheesh, ok. How about China and Myramar? I have never been to North Korea, but you can see tons of pictures of their cities with tons of shop signs.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by roman_mir ( 125474 )

              Do everybody a favour, Google USSR advertising, look at the examples and then stop talking. We had advertising coming out of wazo and it was all completely state sponsored advertising. It was advertising for some products, events, moral ideology etc. The state was also using propaganda to keep people inline. Our newspaper s, such as 'pravda', 'trud' etc., were all propaganda - false advertising by the state to brainwash the entire population of the country. Alternatives were illegal like any other priva

              • Go ahead, tell me that governments should be in charge of the economies.

                They should, but the governments should be under the control of The People, and not corporations.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "The highest form of advertising is when you connect a buyer and a seller to which both strike a deal (purchase) that both feel satisfied."

        Man, they've got you snookered real good. Advertising's entire purpose is to remove money from your wallet. If they could get you to give them all your money without you ever getting anything in return they would. It just happens that it's hard to do that, so advertisers are forced to "strike a deal that both feel satisfied with". Advertisers don't want to feel satisfied

    • It's not all wasted effort, just... a lot of it. Consider the advertising of putting up a sign outside your restaurant (yep, that's advertising too). The type of sign you choose is a reflection of the business you have. Is it a high-class, exclusive restaurant, or a family eatery, or a sports bar? The type of sign, it's design, and so on, all let passers-by on the street know that there's a place to eat nearby, and what sort of place it is. The trick is to put reasonable regulations in place (typically

    • In the past, "industry" meant building things, and advertising was just one small tool to do this. Today, "industry" means advertising foremost, products as a distant second. The entirety of today's modern "tech" industry is entirely about advertising. The biggest companies that the masses want to become involved with: advertising giants, like Google or Facebook.

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:39PM (#50141829)

    I can't remember ever encountering a Slashdot summary that had me literally shouting in agreement.

    The thing is, though, we are being compensated for our attention, with exactly the thing most people are looking for, whether they'd admit to it or not -- novelty and stimulation. It's unfortunate, I think, that this "extraction process" is diverting our attention from more productive outlets. But when has it ever been different? When have the masses, the majority, ever voluntarily directed their attention to productive outlets, instead of directing it to escapism or religious ritual on the rare occasions when it's not consumed by the fight for basic survival?

    • by alexhs ( 877055 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @08:23PM (#50141997) Homepage Journal

      A French private media network CEO called that "available human brain time".
      Someone translated [correresmidestino.com] the surrounding paragraph, if you want some context.
      And if you can read French, there's a wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] about it, with even more context.

  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:41PM (#50141833)

    Marketing is by the College Textbook definition, the act of communicating that you provide something that meets someone's wants and needs and provide utility. Government Agencies, Schools, Non-Profit institutions, also engage in Marketing. But Marketing has a few stipulations to it. One is that Marketed ideas have to be factual. Or "True". And that our society of markets, consumers are supposed to know everything about the products they buy. They don't. And Advertisers are a huge part of the problem.

    Advertisers in todays world are not only misleading people, they in some cases use malicious code to deceive and steal from people by any means necessary. They are effectively burglars who attempt to break into your computer and steal any information possible by using security vulnerabilities to do that.

    • You don't have a clue about the difference b/w marketing and advertising, do you?
    • Marketing is by the College Textbook definition, the act of communicating that you provide something that meets someone's wants and needs and provide utility.

      Your college textbook is way out of date.

      http://link.springer.com/artic... [springer.com]

      Neuromarketing is an emerging field that bridges the study of consumer behavior with neuroscience. Controversial when it first emerged in 2002, the field is gaining rapid credibility and adoption among advertising and marketing professionals. Each year, over 400 billion dollars

  • by DERoss ( 1919496 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:45PM (#50141849)

    Television in the U.S. gives us strong evidence that advertisers are "over-fishing" their audience.

    Many years ago, shows on TV would be longer; and commercial breaks would be fewer and shorter. Some shows had only one sponsor: the "Colgate Comedy Hour", the "U.S. Steel Hour" (drama), "Milton Berl" (comedy sponsored by Texaco), "Armstrong Theater" (drama sponsored by Armstrong Floors and Carpets), "The Voice of Firestone" (both popular and classical vocal music sponsored by Firestone Tires), and "I Love Lucy" (comedy sponsored by Phillip Morris Tobacco).

    Today, TV shows are shorter so that commercial breaks can be longer and more frequent. Furthermore, more commercials are packed into each break. I have counted advertisements for four different automobile manufacturers in a single break. I also notice the constant selling of health-care products -- both over-the-counter and prescription -- one right after another. And then there are the same commercials repeated during a single break. We are so saturated with TV advertising that few commercials create any lasting impression on consumers.

    If I were the CEO of an automobile or pharmaceutical manufacturer, I would order my marketing department to insist that any TV commercial from my company must not appear during the same commercial break as a product from a competing company. Nor would I allow my commercials to appear within 15 minutes of another commercial break advertising products from a competing company. Yes, such restrictions would cost my company more than the current saturation placement of commercials; but the lasting impression of isolating my advertisements from my competitors would be worth the cost.

    • The original series episodes are about 48 minutes long. By the time TNG came along a new standard of about 42 minutes had emerged. However it seems to have stabilised at that level.
    • both over-the-counter and prescription

      What the hell? Why would someone advertise prescription medication? Isn't the idea behind prescription medications that the doctors decide on the drug to give you?

  • The post seems to assume that the over-exploitation of advertising is akin to the haul. The reality is more like the boat. Over advertising doesn't steal more and more of out attention, but rather we get better at ignoring it. TV has more adverts than ever which is great because I can now do dishes / clean-up during shows.

    The post also assumes there's nothing to be gained. Comparing it to fishes is non-sensical as the fish don't gain anything by being fished. We on the other hand gain a multitude of service

  • by NitroWolf ( 72977 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:51PM (#50141879)

    Yes, advertising is morally justifiable as long as there is choice to not be exposed to that advertising. If there is a website that you are required to go to for say the IRS or other government services. Or you're required to go there for your school or some other "required" website, then it gets far more murky. But if you are going to a commercial or entertainment or even a news site, then it is totally morally justifiable, since there is no requirement that you visit that site. You are agreeing to the consumption of the content for "free," you are really paying with your attention, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    Then when you throw in AdBlock and it's ilk into the mix, which allows you to bypass the attention sale, I think it's totally justifiable.

    To take it a step further, if you could somehow mandate (haha) that advertising be easily blockable, then it goes even further into the justifiable category, since only those wish to see the advertising would be seeing it. That's the choice... We should not limit people in what they can and can't do just because we don't agree with where we "spend" out attention. Not that anyone is suggesting that. I don't think the question is whether it's morally justifiable or not, since advertising really doesn't have a moral component, so long as there is choice (and there currently is) - if and when the advertising crosses over into the forced and unavoidable advertising, then it absolutely is NOT justifiable under any circumstance.

    I really think that is the ultimate crux here: If a person can avoid the advertising (either through a switch, through AdBlock et al or by not visiting the site) then it's totally justifiable. If it is forced upon the person or on a site that you are required to visit for something that is unavoidable (Government services, etc...) then no, it's not justifiable at all.

    Other than that, the free market should decide. If the advertising is too much on a site, then don't visit it... that company will either change it's ways or go out of business.

  • by GerryGilmore ( 663905 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:52PM (#50141885)
    Similarly to Germany's ban on billboards on the autobahn - which are proven to distract a driver's attention - there should be some reasonable limits on ads. I originally signed up for cable, then satellite, because so many of the channels were then ad-free. Today, there is virtually nothing that's ad-free, including my Camry's radio start-up message that reminds me that - yes! - I'm driving a Camry! Basically, I am sick and freaking tired of ads everywhere and have fine-tuned my life to avoid them as much as possible. But, man is it tough!!
    • I am reminded of a small bit in E.E. 'Doc' Smith's novel First Lensman, where Virgil Samms is visiting Rigel IV, and is being driven to a meeting with potential candidates for receiving a Lens. Samms is telepathically linked to the driver, and notices an object on the side of the road that, while perceived by the driver, produces no information about it, but which Samms' Lens decipers as "Eat Teegmee's Food!" -- and the driver comments, "Advertising. You do not notice yours, either?" The bit is foreshadowed

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @07:58PM (#50141905) Homepage Journal

    Some advertising is OK. The type that tells you what it is, where to get it, and what it costs is OK. Naturally, they think theirs is the best.

    Then there's the obnoxious commercials. The ones that throw in gratuitous doorbells and filter the audio until it sounds like you're delirious so they can push the volume up while technically (just barely) staying within guidelines.

    Beyond that, there's the constant attempt to transfer your feelings for everything good to their product. They actually want to intrude on cherished childhood memories for their benefit. Make no mistake, it's no accident, they hire a bunch of psychologists to help them.

    The worst is advertising to kids. A committee of grown-ups with doctorates ganging up on a child to give them the wrong impression without saying anything legally actionable in order to get them to pester their parents.

    As for brands, they've got to be kidding. It's been a very long time since brands were anything but a well known name stuck on some Chinese no-name product bought from a random manufacturer.

    • As for brands, they've got to be kidding. It's been a very long time since brands were anything but a well known name stuck on some Chinese no-name product bought from a random manufacturer.

      A brand is associated with customer service, and quality assurance. Someone who occasionally pulls products out of the distribution stream and tests them can reasonably retain the reputation of their brand. And how you handle your failures is also a major factor. And that's why it's potentially worth it to pay more; they can afford to handle your problems gracefully.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        If only the major brands actually handled customer service anymore. I have seen little discernible difference.

  • Among the top five regrets of the dying are "I wish I hadn't worked so hard" and "I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends" - not "I wish I spent more time engaging with brands on social media and reading up on the 24 hour news cycle"

    Advertising appeals to the temporary, short term interest, and in doing so robs people of the time to pursue long term goals that actually make them happy and fulfilled - like spending time with family, acquiring new skills, or working to improve the lives of others. It's c

  • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @08:05PM (#50141935) Journal
    Kill yourselves [youtube.com].

    Seriously, no, this isn't a joke. If you aren't advertising a truly new product or service (this is maybe 0.1% of advertising), you are filling the world with bile and garbage.

    Nice that we get "free" ad-supported stuff in the meantime, but holy fuck do we (as a society) pay for it.
  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @08:16PM (#50141973)

    To paraphrase Bobby Hill, "What was YouTube supposed to do? NOT monetize the hospitalized baby [staticflickr.com]?"

  • And the people who run Slashdot should defend themselves.
  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @09:05PM (#50142197)

    If you don't want to see ads, don't use ad-supported services. They are called "ad supported" because your attention is what you use to pay with for those services. There are plenty of ad-free for-pay services if you want to. They are generally not as good because they are not as popular, but that's the choice most people make; live with it.

  • Is justifying behaviors using morals morally justifiable?

    I know... we should find a majority... that believe in morals! Yeah, that's the ticket!
  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @09:46PM (#50142371)
    Advertising in and of itself is completely justifiable.

    But that sure as hell isn'twha is happening now.

    Our web searches are "personalized"

    The other day, I wanted to look up something on the Food Network on my wife's computer. So I googled The food network to get the right URL. The Godamned Food network site wasn't on the first page. Lots of ad, and those rotten aggregators poppesd up. DDG is her new search engine.

    Adverstalkers pollute our screens with shit we've already looked at

    One time I needed some tires, and went to TireRack.com. I needed to turn off scriptblock and adblock. SO far so good. I forgot to turn it back on, and the friggin' tires I looked ad were on the next ten pages I went to.

    They waste bandwidth, make the web pages load a lot slower, and generally piss off people. Those bastards expect me to buy shit from them after that crap? That's like Jerry Sandusky expecting a Father's day card from those little boys he boned.

    That's immoral and unethical.

    So I use every means at my disposal to keep that shit away from my computer. Hosts and adblock and noscript at a bare minimum are called for.

  • whether or not it works is if people consume the resource despite the advertising

    there are other models to pay for a resource. if they do better than an advertising model in terms of raising cash to support the resource that's great. it is just a matter of what works

    of course advertising sucks. so avoid it if you want to. and if a resource you want uses advertising, you have to go to alternative products of similar quality that don't use advertising, or you'll have to suck it up and deal with the advertisin

  • First, advertising imposes costs on individuals without permission or compensation.

    Which is nonsense. The entire model for advertising is providing compensation which outweighs the negatives of the advertising. To pick his example of Google: search, email, web browsers, phone operating systems, mapping, video viewing, news aggregation... are all very expensive services to provide. Google provides them for free in exchange for consuming advertising. That is the compensation.

  • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 ) on Sunday July 19, 2015 @10:52PM (#50142625)

    You get access to expensive content or services for free. The alternative would be to make you pay but to make money, you (usually) need to work, and work requires your attention. Either way, you are exchanging attention for a service.

  • First, TFA is a very poorly structured blog post. It meanders like the Mississippi river and doesn't properly support the points it tries to make. It makes assumptions that no grad student or wiki editor would get away with.

    It's true, we pay in this way for much of our content. And we pay ceaselessly with distractions that have no relevance in our lives. Do we really need to see 17 ads for furniture stores, 36 ads for alcohol products and 7 ads for feminine intimate garments every day? Even if they are erot

  • not really (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @01:11AM (#50143143) Homepage Journal

    philosopher Thomas Wells is out to change the way you think about Google and its ilk.

    Not really, no. He's just saying what I've been thinking (and saying, but since I'm not a reknown philosopher, few listen) for many years.

    If you know anything at all about the mind and the brain, you understand that attention isn't free. That even "filtering out" advertisement (and we don't really, we just consume it unconsciously) takes up valuable mind-effort. That living in a city is stressful in parts because our brains are constantly busy, busy, busy with the environment, running a million-year-old program that constantly scans the area for potential threats or mates, and advertisement intentionally triggers those subroutines all the time (why do you think "sex sells"?).

    Advertisement is a massive drain of resources, and the best thing I've ever done for myself was to throw out my television and stop listening to the radio. At least the inside of my home is mostly ad-free.

    • Re:not really (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jack Griffin ( 3459907 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @03:13AM (#50143443)

      He's just saying what I've been thinking (and saying, but since I'm not a reknown philosopher, few listen) for many years.

      If you know anything at all about the mind and the brain, you understand that attention isn't free.

      Ditto. One other thing that bugs me is those "charity muggers" on every street corner trying to get your credit card details. One thing I've noticed since they were invented, is now I no longer talk to strangers. There was a time when someone came up to ask you the time, or directions or for a light, and I'd oblige, maybe kick off a conversation and generally exchange good will with a another human. Now all that goodwill has been stolen by charity muggers. The goodwill people used to have toward strangers has been stolen by their behavior. This was a real resource that now no longer exists, yet how do you measure the true cost?

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday July 20, 2015 @03:47AM (#50143515)

    If it's your right to shove advertising in my face, it's my right to punch your nose for being an obnoxious asshole. Deal?

  • Not often these days does something like this [abc.net.au] manage to offend me to the core, but that article really got my goat. It is a masterpiece sure, well written even. But it is constructed to lead you down a narrow garden path of thinking and reason you into a little corner from which you the conclude you are somehow under attack and only way through is to keep on the path. I left the path half-way, trampled a bit of shrubbery and climbed a tree to look down on this weird thing. I saw an ancient tactic for Manufacturing Consent,

    1. Begin by manufacturing and presenting an "oppressor/victim scenario".
    2. Attempt to convince reader that they are in this "victim" group.
    3. Present a view that does not ascribe any Free Will or choice to the "victim group".
    4. In this tactical reasoning the only "Free Will" is possessed by the oppressor, who is using it for "evil".
    5. Further elevate this aggressor scenario by claiming some natural right not to be "victimized".
    6. This gives reader an ego massage. They are no longer a "victim", merely "concerned about the Rights of Others"
    7. Choose a base motive you think would be most contemptible to your audience and ascribe it to the oppressor.
    8. Once the argument is under way, focus entirely on oppressor's actions. Steer away from victims' actions or choices.
    9. Congratulations! You are mustering a troll army to become a self-described "Moral Majority".
    10. When it distills into a Cause, it need not be morally defensible or even comprise a majority.

    So you are this poor defenseless human being, right? You are foraging on the green fields of Internet, picking out the choice clover that sprouts there. You are a sheep that Will Safely Graze in the pasture of human endeavor and will thrive happily unless your most precious possession --- your attention --- is stolen from you by those with Corporate Interest in mind. You have no Free Will in the matter. The rectangle that is your Facebook Page is being infringed upon by Advertising. Your personal information and patterns of behavior, which you supply of your own free will, is being stolen by others.

    If you are lucky you've been raised by parents who would Laugh Out Loud at this kind of argument, and you inherently recognize and fix on the part of the argument that is most tenuous and contrived. Like since when do people have some sort of right not to be distracted in public places?

    Advertising -- and even PR and Propaganda-- is applied in the world like any business model. Winor lose. Some of the models are stupid, some are clever. If you don't like what they're selling don't give them traction. And if you some day find yourself surrounded by a true-majority of people whose opinions you are uncomfortable with, you are left with the usual options: fight or flight.

Memory fault -- brain fried

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