By: Bella Spadafora, Communications and Digital Strategy Committee Member
This past week, I had the great fortune of attending a lecture by Mara Einstein, a renowned author and professor of media studies. Of her many successful books, Mara discussed the details of her newest one, Black Ops Advertising. After attending Professor Einstein’s lecture on Black Ops Advertising and “fake news,” her insightful message really resonated with me as a student in communications, as well as a consumer. She began by saying that advertising has changed throughout the years and that nowadays, advertising’s goal is to be as hidden as possible. As consumers, we have found ways to filter out advertisements with inventions like AdBlock and DVR. In turn, advertisers and agencies have found sly ways to integrate advertising without us even realizing.
Professor Einstein discussed two different major ways of advertising happening in the digital age. The first is native advertising which is indigenous to the site itself. There are two types of native advertising: in-feed and custom-native. An in-feed example is when someone is scrolling through twitter and a promoted tweet pops up on their timeline. It is also very frequent on Facebook and Instagram. Custom-native is a much more discrete ad, like one in an article (BuzzFeed is a frequent practitioner in the custom-native articles). The second type of advertising is content marketing, which is created by the advertiser in which there is no sales message. An example is PokemonGo, in which the Pokemon Company created an interactive app to promote their brand.
The main issue with the new advertising is that it is extremely hard to detect whether the website or article you are reading is really pure news or backed by an advertiser. These newfound ways have lax regulations so advertising can be easily reached to consumers with few serious obstacles. All in all, our advertising has changed in ways that are hard to recognize. It seems to be effective, however it is questionable whether it is ethical to the consumers.