Reflection

Exploring the effects of advertising has greatly expanded my knowledge on the methods in which advertisers reach their audience, and the phycological and physical effects resulting from overexposure to false perceptions portrayed by advertisements. It seems as if the most dangerous proposed threats regarding advertising relates to the younger audience, as they unaware of the manipulative power of ads and in the process of adopting habits that they may pursue for the rest of their lives.

The biggest concern appears in the abilities of advertisements to encourage harmful behaviors and establish unrealistic social standards, as children are surrounded by ads promoting unhealthy foods, women are constantly comparing themselves to the displayed image of the perfect, ideal appearance, and teens are overexposed to ads endorsing harmful products of drugs and alcohol.

As advertising establishes these possible negative effects, I was also reminded by the reality that advertising is a vital aspect of business and society, and allows necessary communication between industries and their audience. Although advertisers investigate specific ways in order to target a certain audience, using tactics seen as possibly manipulative and corrupt, their intentions are not to instill harm, but to promote and sell their product.

Living in a world of omnipresent advertisements

I felt as though the most difficult aspects of this assignment included the ability to use a lengthy article and produce a concise summary of the most important elements relating to my topic. My topic also expressed varying and opposing viewpoints, as evidence supporting negative effects of advertising on viewers was unable to offer direct, absolute proof, taking into account the phycology and other outside factors influencing a specific person and their behaviors. I thought the compare and contrast post was very interesting, as it granted insight into the two completely opposing views regarding the effects of alcohol advertising on youth. This also mirrored my interview post, as it expressed differing views on the impact of cigarette ads on the teen audience.

I greatly enjoyed the ability to explore any topic of choice, as I was intrigued by the impact of advertising, which reflects a relevant and omnipresent issue in today’s society. This issue seems especially prevalent with the growing and expanding methods of communication accompanying new technologies. I was alarmed to discover the many ways in which Facebook offered such a primary advertising market and utilized personal information to directly target specific individuals. As an avid user of Facebook, I am now aware of these methods of customized and personal advertising, and will be able recognize if I am falling victim to overbearing advertising ploys. I feel as though the assignment as a whole was very rewarding, as it was my first experience creating and managing a blog.

Although this is my final post, my observations have opened my eyes to advertising’s powerful role in our society and its possible harmful results towards human behaviors including eating disorders, childhood obesity, and abusive drug or alcohol abuse. I was overwhelmed in observing the abundance of advertisements and their ability to explore new and creative ways in order to target and enter the minds of their viewers.

The Advertising World of Facebook

With over 400 million members, Facebook has evolved to become an immense part of our daily, social lives. As many teenagers exhibit addictive behaviors, checking Facebook as much as every few minutes, the site has emerged as an unavoidable and influential part of society. Establishing a new method of communication and social interaction, Facebook opens new doors of opportunity and reveals an exciting new way for people to sustain relationships and share ideas by allowing people to contact old friends, communicate to a large mass of people or hold a one-on-one conversation, and express their personal interests and involvements.

Possessing these vast possibilities and becoming such a large aspect of our changing society, Facebook exhibits a new powerful and influential market for advertising. The site has previously utilized information given by the user, including their status updates, wall posts, age, gender, where they live, occupation, relationship status, and other content  or pages a member “likes” to display certain advertisements to users on later visits. However, according to “Facebook tries out targeted ads,” Facebook is experimenting with new technology that “instantly targets ads based on the content of members’ wall posts and status updates, as the social network joins a growing list of Internet companies working with advertisers to market products related to a person’s interests or online activities at that moment.”

Unavoidable Facebook advertising, directly targeting the specific user

This method of advertising, currently used by websites such as Google, provides instant, targeted advertising in an opened webpage based upon the content of the browser’s search or profile. The extension of this capability to Facebook allows advertisers to reach the overwhelmingly large audience occupying the site in the exact instance they express an interest through the constant sharing of information with friends.

As Facebook is a very personal system of expression, this instant and customized mode of advertising establishes a possible positive aspect, exposing users to products of interest faster and easier. It also aids advertising companies, as they are able to target and better communicate with an audience already attracted to their product.

However, this also creates concern regarding the debate on what subjects to use for advertising, as Internet analysts realize the risk of alienating people who feel their personal lives threatened or infringed upon with advertising that seems “too relevant.”

Does Alcohol Advertising Cause Abuse to Youth?

The abundance of alcohol advertisements, especially on television, presents a possible influential factor regarding the actions and attitudes of youth towards alcohol. According to “Alcohol Advertising Targeted to Youth Causes Abuse,” restrictions of the alcohol industries are too relaxed, allowing their advertisements to target an audience primarily composed of teens under the age of 21. Many of these ads glamorize drinking or portray abusive drinking behavior as socially acceptable or even fun, possibly enticing young people to start drinking abusively or at an early, illegal age.

A study conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth in 2001, surveying youth exposure to alcohol advertisements, revealed shocking evidence that about a fourth of television alcohol advertising, comprising of about 51,084 ads, was delivered more effectively to youth than to adults, reaching 89 percent of the youth audience. Other research conducted in 2001 reflected that alcohol industry spent “$1.8 million and placed 3,262 ads on programs where the underage audience was more than 50%.”

The loose restrictions placed on the advertising industries targeting a young audience, along with the overwhelming amount of these alcohol ads presents a possible motivating force propelling the growing issue of underage drinking and abuse.

Enticing its audience to endorse alcohol in order to obtain happiness

Enticing its audience to endorse alcohol in order to obtain happiness

While these strong feelings towards alcohol advertising depict a harmful threat towards early alcohol habits and consumption, others believe that the ads possess no methods of corruption. As advertising is designed to inform the public and convey a message, alcohol industries use advertising as a mode of communication in order to promote and sell their product. This presents a vital necessity in the prosperity of business and consumer awareness.

Ideas reflected in “Alcohol Advertising Targeted to Youth May Not Cause Abuse” support the opinion that alcohol industries are strictly limited and promote restricted terms of self-regulation. The American alcohol beverage industry has established separate voluntary advertising codes instigated by the beer, wine and distilled spirits industries, and the “Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for enforcing efforts to stop ‘unfair or deceptive acts of practice’ and recently was asked to review industry efforts to avoid promoting alcohol to underage consumers.”

Along with the claim that the alcohol industries exhibit and attempt to maintain honorable and controlled practices, recent studies by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services support an insignificant and intangible correlation between advertisements and underage drinking,  claiming a lack of conclusive and consistent evidence.

Many sources present conflicting evidence regarding the question of the impact of alcohol advertisements on teens and their thoughts and actions towards alcohol. The uncertainty of this issue allows opposing views, but also establishes a worrying concern on the impact of television ads on the well being and life long habits adopted by children at an early age.