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Editorial: Advertising...how far is too far?

Online advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry. Massive companies rely on it to display their products to the public, and other companies rely on those companies to pay for advertising. Look at Google, for example; many websites use their services, including the one you're looking at right now. It's a vital part of running a website, in most cases, and there's no problem with that...but with advertising, how far is too far?

Many people don't notice advertisements. They just accept that they're there, and I believe that's beginning to cause a problem for those companies relying services such as Google's. How many of you ever click on online advertisements? I know I don't; I barely notice them, unless there's more on a website than content. Advertisers may be starting to notice, and have started upgrading (and expanding) their content to new media. For example: soon, you may start to get advertisements on your mobile phone. As you're well aware, this isn't exactly new media, and I've received ads on my phone before, but that was only after signing up for some deal that gives you rewards in exchange for viewing them. The thought of getting a companies latest product clogging up my phone's screen without permission isn't exactly a happy one, but unfortunately, it may become a reality.

Again, this makes me wonder, if they're bringing the game to our personal, mobile devices, where will they stop? You may also have read on Neowin recently about devices that can recognize who is looking at it, and show images of products that target you specifically, whether you're male or female, young or old. How long is it before this technology is built into our televisions? It's a scary thought, and certainly diminishes the feeling of privacy in your own home.

I believe that the problem is the general public don't particularly care, as I have noticed; that, and the fact that companies care even less. As long as they sell products, they're happy, usually despite what customers say. If they can get pictures of their product right into your hands, it's a win. As a fellow staff member pointed out, the sad fact is, as long as advertising increases at a rate that nobody notices, and it keeps loading cash into the hands of corporate suits, then it will keep increasing. The issue with this is that there is a finite amount of money held by consumers; companies fight to get their products chosen, and to do that they have to extend their advertising as far as possible.

I'll admit, there are websites that take a positive advantage of recognizing your personality, by checking your recent purchases online and offering you similar products. These are handy services, and I respect that. It's the extent that advertising is being offered that is worrying. Even when you boot up the latest Burnout title, you may see billboards for products that can dynamically change depending on time of day, or even where you are. This may help fund the game, and make it a better experience, but it can also diminish it if there's corporate messages every 30 seconds. Another form of advertising that is far out of hand is spam; just this morning, on my Twitter account, I got 4 followers, all "entrepreneurs" from the same "company". I didn't realize entrepreneurs were so keen on wearing bikinis. Spam is entirely different kettle of fish (and it is also annoying successful), which I don't think I'd like to delve into, but needless to say, today's life certainly revolves around advertising.

So in a world driven by money, where will it all stop? Where is the line drawn? With ads that can recognize who you are, and ads being sent to every device you own, where will companies turn to next? Perhaps it's time to speak out, lest we start suffering from nanometer-sized robots reorganizing our Alphabet Soup to spell out the latest Need for Speed game. What do you think?

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