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Is Advertising Becoming Too Invasive?

Is Advertising Becoming Too Invasive?

Posted on Mar 24, 2017 by

Living in a world with technology at our fingertips, mobile devices have given advertisers greater opportunity to reach further into consumers lives. However, to succeed in this ploy, they have needed to cleverly adapt. So we ask, with the average person constantly bombarded by advertisements, has it become too much?

Text marketing capitalizes on technology that nearly the entire population carries with them at all times. With ads physically popping up on viewers’ phones, it has become nearly impossible to ignore. It is easy to understand why this is immensely beneficial to brands, but to consumers, it might be going a bit too far. Although, when I receive texts from Chipotle, alerting me to promotions and coupons, I do have to admit that it does remind me to get Chipotle for lunch that day. However, I have to remind myself to be aware of what information I am trading for my discounted burrito.

Retargeting has become a very effective way for advertisers to focus on consumers who have already expressed interest. What it does is it tracks your online behavior, in order to tailor your ad experience on other sites. We’ve all been on Facebook and thought about the wild coincidence that the shoes we were just looking at online are now popping up as an ad. Well, this is not a coincidence–it’s retargeting. The question here is this: would we, as consumers, rather have ads portraying the things that interest us, or would we prefer to preserve our privacy when surfing the web?

Currently, as demonstrated by recent posts on, it is hard to navigate most websites without an obstructive ad popping up to delay your viewing experience. Essentially, these ads are placing a risky bet that consumers are willing to put up with them into order to consume their desired content. How long of a YouTube ad would you tolerate in order to view your desired content? Your behavior may dictate which ads are served to you, as well as on which of your devices they appear. You may also have noticed that the first three search results on Google are usually ads. In a way, both of these examples are the tolls that we pay, with our attention, for access to these services. However, we must again keep in mind that these obstructions have been carefully tuned to bring in the most ad revenue, without turning off a critical number of users.

Switching gears now to subtlety, some brands have gotten extremely creative when it comes to advertising that flies under the radar. Whether that’s product placement in the film industry, or sponsoring events, this sort of advertising is ubiquitous. The subtle irony behind the 30 Rock skit, mocking product placement, uses product placement to show how self-aware advertising has become. As Liz Lemon (Tina Fey)  frantically bashes product placement, declaring that it has no place on her show, she drinks a Snapple and listens to her coworkers tell everyone how good it is. You’ll often hear of the marriage of content and commerce, but how far into our entertainment can messages go before it can no longer be considered entertainment.

As an agency that works closely with advertising, we do not wish this industry out of business. Although we do see that technology seems to be moving faster than general awareness, which negatively affects the informed consent of consumers, regarding what they are giving and receiving from the deal. Out of curiosity, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Do you think advertising has become too invasive for the services provided?

Alyssa Zucker

Public Relations student at UT Austin; Social Media and Marketing Intern at HMG Creative; California native, coffee addict. Follow her on Instagram @alyssazucker

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