January 27, 2017

Immediately after the election, Tim Wu, author of The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, talked with us about how Trump commanded our national attention to get all the way to the White House. But it’s not just political figures and tech corporations that are dominating our collective awareness. There are, as always, advertisements. And they’re becoming even more omnipresent. Wu talks about this new landscape, and how it’s shaping our lives.

Three Takeaways:

  • According to Wu, advertisements are increasingly moving into some pretty strange places. Like schools. And national parks. Wu believes that, “we have given up on the idea that some spaces are sacred and noncommercial.” And he thinks that, over the next 10 years, a lot more of these “sacred” spaces are going to be targeted.
  • This is due partly to our complete unwillingness to sit through, or engage with, traditional ads. Wu compares us to sea creatures who have been overfished so much, they no longer respond to a specific lure. “Advertisers are desperate to try to get people and [as we’re exposed to more ads], we build up resistance, we start ignoring one type of advertisement, so it becomes less powerful.”
  • There’s a reason why there are so many ads on the web. It’s because most stuff on the web is free, and thus, ad-supported. If you really don’t want to see ads online, “you really have to suck it up and pay for that stuff.”

More Reading:

advertising, Business, Tim Wu, Kara Miller

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