You just clicked on a link. Or maybe you’re just reading the beginning of this post and then scrolling on because you don’t like the picture I put at the top. But by now you definitely had to click something to read more of this post. Because of your simple click or tap you have succumbed to the simple business plan of advertisers.
I do not receive any income from this blog, but millions of other websites and blogs get paid to have ads on their pages. Every click and every view that the site gets increases their revenue because that means more people saw the ad. Every view and click is another data point to how you as a consumer interact with and consume things online.
Advertisers pay to put their ads in front of you because you have bought something from them before, or you’ve visited their website before, or you look like a potential customer based on other online behavior. The way that advertisers can do this is because Google and other big data companies sell their information about where and what sites we have gone to and clicked on.
The new way that advertisers are subjecting us to their tantalizing click ads is by putting sponsored content on our social media sites. When we scroll through Facebook or Instagram we usually scroll right by the sponsored content links, but those companies have paid a lot of money to show you specifically that ad. They are hoping that if you are in a social setting it might be easier for you to click on an ad.
This is a very different way of advertising compared to the good ole days of putting ads on TV based on the average demographic who watched each show. Now advertisers can pin point exactly who they need to display their content to. We on the other hand are reminded every time we search for something that that information is being sold away.
This is what keeps the places that we go online and the apps that we use “Free”. This is the world that we have accepted. “It is worth companies around the world having our information about what we search for just so that I can look at these pictures of cats for free” is what we say to ourselves.
Netflix and subscription based services are ways that we consume content that are fighting back against these advertisers. Because when Facebook or Google or even our TV providers are pretending like they are “serving” us, they are actually trying to lure us into their content so they can receive money from advertisers. Netflix has flipped the ship and is now serving the consumers of their content so they don’t have to answer to any advertisers.
Maybe someday we will figure out a way to pay for the things we want to see online without having ads or paying fees. But as long as we all are okay with scrolling past underwear ads, watching old spice commercials, and accidentally clicking on sponsored content then we are allowing advertisers to rule the online content world.
Related: “You Have A Vote”