Reading 07: White Noise

Even though the Internet is filled of a lot of hate, there’s one thing that everyone can hate on together, and that’s online advertising. Users flame advertisements all the time, making fun of them even in comment sections of videos that have them playing. And from a user experience perspective, it really is the bane of UX/UI. Since it’s been hard to figure out the sweet spot of informational vs annoying both from a general experience side to figuring out where to actually place it on the page, ads rarely get clicked on.

There’s also another story here. On top of the fact that now a majority of users wouldn’t want to click on ads in the first place, there’s safety concerns as well. So instead of blaming any inherent laziness, there’s always the chance that clicking on an ad can lead to disastrous results.

In terms of advertising invading privacy, I was intrigued by the interesting premise made by Alexis C. Madrigal in the article, “How Much Is Your Data Worth? Mmm, Somewhere Between Half a Cent and $1,200, where she references a survey done by Carnegie Mellon faculty saying “that is to say: if people think data is already flowing to a website, few would pay to hold it back. But if they think their data is being held back, a large majority would be unwilling to share it.” It’s similar to the idea of first putting your foot in the door to then get your idea into people’s heads. Thus in a more privacy-invasive world, as more and more of out data becomes accessible, sometimes without us even knowing it, privacy one day may just be obliterated. Google for example, has held information about users even without permission, such as keeping track of location even when the location feature on phones was supposed to be turned off. This also leads to new Facebook paranoia where users are concerned that Facebook is somehow hearing or listening to what they talk about. Thus online advertising in effect, becomes extremely invasive. Besides the extreme examples of the Buzzfeed article talking about how Facebook advertising knew a user was gay before he did and the Target advertisements of baby products to a customer before she knew she was pregnant, some future examples could include abusing the emotional state of users and thus convince people for example, insecure about their body image to buy lots of products such as protein, fat-burning exercise programs, and more.

However, it’s actually interesting as a lot of ads are becoming more intriguing, and sometimes I actually did find myself staying to watch one, even though that’s still rare. But due to a lot of users desensitizing themselves to ads and dismissing them as essentially the Internet’s white noise, I wouldn’t be surprised that even if ads to present revenue to companies and content creators, a lot of people would still use Adblock or something of the sort. It’s like when you’re in a room with a somewhat loud AC. At some point, you’re not going to even notice that it’s there any longer.