Monday, March 10, 2008

The Future Is Now

"A new analysis of online consumer data shows that large Web companies are learning more about people than ever from what they search for and do on the Internet, gathering clues about the tastes and preferences of a typical user several hundred times a month." (Here.)

Not news per se, but it's slowly becoming a topic one discusses in polite society.

"These companies use that information to predict what content and advertisements people most likely want to see. They can charge steep prices for carefully tailored ads because of their high response rates."

And the gloriously elegant market solution that will soon perhaps present itself is that the consumer may herself shell out for the opportunity of "ad-free," or ad-minimal, or very likely "ad-invisible," cyberspace--adhering to the good taste (aesthetics, manners, anti-vulgarity) of very few ads, as though one were tucked away in the high green hills, far from the billboard-littered boulevards where strip malls and blocky superstores pollute our visual quotidian.


Anonymous said...

I think the more likely scenario will be that Ads will begin to be targeted toward specific IP's. And people/families will eventually be conscious of the ads that they receive as reflections of their habits. Soon enough you'll have people changing their internet habits so that they receive 'proper' advertisements. People will essentially buy ads. Just as they do with cars and clothing -- except in this instance in a much more literal sense.

Enjoying the blog from a distance. Keep up the good work!

ZC said...

Interesting. Yes, I think you're right, that's a better prediction for what will happen. (Not the escape from ads but the newest manifestation of advertising as status symbol.) Thanks!

David McDougall said...

most interesting about this (to me) is the way that these ads in fact become a service rather than a burden. while unwanted ads clutter our physical and virtual space, there's a certain component of ads that will be wanted, offering relevant products previously unknown, etc. So it's more likely that we'll see a system in which people voluntarily collaborate with their own advertisement-colonization. Many online retailers algorithmically offer recommendations to users, offering the chance to modify those by clicking on a "not interested" box or rating more products, adding information to the algorithm and further developing their ability to sell you things you want to buy. This voluntary collaboration that offers a genuine service to consumers in search of objects for consumption. As these systems get more sophisticated, they have the ability to create a weird synthesis between oppression and pleasure, a space you'll often catch me calling 'market fascism.'