World of Ads
One of my favorite TV shows is Black Mirror. Recently, I watched the episode, “15 Million Merits.” The episode portrays a world where advertisements are so deeply saturated into people’s daily lives. Media and advertisements incessantly pop up regardless of place and time, even when brushing your teeth or relaxing in your bedroom. To turn off these advertisements off temporarily, characters needs to pay, only to be swarmed with more advertisements shortly after. Though dramatized in a fictional setting, this episode depicts a world not so far from ours.
Funnily enough, we already have to install Ad-blockers on our phone and our computers to keep ads from overflowing our devices. We pay to block them too. For example, to remove ads from our music listening experience on apps such as Spotify, people need to pay more for a premium account. In fact, we watch adds to get rid of ads. On Spotify, to enjoy thirty minutes of ad free music listening, one could watch an advertisement video of one to two minutes. The fact that we need to block advertisements by viewing more ads simply shows the ludicrousness of an ad filled world we live in.
This reminds me of the recent news about enabling ad blocking in the new Apple iOS 9. Many publishers have been criticizing the ad blocking feature for treating all ads the same. They say blocking all ads are too blunt. There needs to be a more customizable way to block off ads. Will more ad-blocking functions allow us to live less ad-intrusive lives or will increase of ad blockers worsen our situation as ad producers simply find other alternative ways to seep into our lives? Already, there are increase in native advertisements that we (and ad blockers) cannot detect as advertisements. This episode in Last Week Tonight by John Oliver best demonstrates how absurd it is for ads to disguise as content.
Most prevalently, websites such as Buzzfeed feature articles that have advertisement ingrained in its content. More and more, it is becoming harder to distinguish what ads are since ads are so deeply weaved into all kinds of media and products we consume. What is a logical way to distinguish between intrusive advertisement and productive advertisement?