Fri 10 Oct 2014 08:43:07 AM PDT
Susceptible to advertising?
Something I hear a lot in discussions of online ad blocking is something like:
Ad blocker users aren't susceptible to advertising anyway.
But advertising isn't a matter of susceptability. It's not fly fishing. Advertising is based on an exchange of attention for signal. The audience pays attention, and the advertiser sends a signal of his or her intentions in the market and belief in product saleability.
We may not conform to a model of perfect economic
behavior, but neither are we puppets at the mercy
of every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a billboard. We
aren't that easily manipulated.
Ad blocker users aren't the only ones who aren't "susceptible." Nobody is "susceptible." People pay attention to advertising more or less depending on how involved they are in that market, but it's a rational process.
If you go down the road of believing in "susceptible," then you get to the wrong answers. First, advertisers throw away their signaling ability by targeting users likely to click. Then users respond by blocking not just the targeted ads but by over-blocking the remaining signal-carrying ads.
Once you understand how advertising works (you did read that Kevin Simler essay?) you can get to the optimal blocking tool for yourself as a market participant: Privacy Badger, which blocks the ads that it's not rational to look at while letting non-targeted ads, with their signaling value, through.
More on this kind of thing: Targeted Advertising Considered Harmful