4 Intrusive Ways Internet Ads Are Squeezing Into Your Life
The Internet has a complicated relationship with ads. They can be annoying, but most of us understand that they are necessary in order for us to continue doing things for free on our computers. However, some companies are going out of their way to make their ads as intrusive as possible, to the point where they might as well be hiring old-timey radio announcers to break into our houses and read us ad copy.
Google's Free Services Are Becoming Ad-Riddled
Statistically speaking, Gmail is the top email service provider in the world. That's a lot of eyeballs just waiting to have ads paraded around in front of them, and Google is taking advantage of that fact by delivering ad spam directly to their users' inboxes disguised as legitimate messages.
"Ah, good ol' Vista Print. What he's been up to since our frat days?"
Not only are they designing a marketing strategy specifically to prey on lonely naivete, but they're also scanning your emails to search for words like "pizza" and "Netflix" to use against you in an advertising context. Did you send your co-worker an email about checking out that new sushi restaurant? Be prepared for a deluge of sushi ads to suddenly appear in your Gmail inbox.
Let's stick with the sushi example for another sentence and pretend that you're opening up the Google Maps app on your phone to search for nearby raw fish dispensaries. Well, Google has started putting "relevant ads" at the bottom of every map, right where the directions should be, so odds are you'll end up clicking on the ad by mistake simply because you're trying to see whether you should turn right at the derelict shipyard or just keep driving.
They originally started in Delaware trying to get to Olive Garden.
It's like a room full of Google execs unanimously decided the next phase of their empire should be entirely dependent on tricking people into clicking on things.
Eye Tracking for Ads Is Now Officially a Thing
Last August, Google patented technology for Google Glass that would allow them to track your eye movement during advertisements (both online and in the real world) to determine how effective the ads are, because as Google clearly demonstrated by rifling through your personal messages to search for advertising keywords (see above), they exist in a world where "scruples" is the name of some kind of potato chip and having a computer constantly stare at your face to try to guess how a toothpaste commercial is landing is in no way weird or unsettling.
"People will totally buy billboards to wear on their faces at all times." -Google, correctly predicting the future.
And earlier this week, Virgin Mobile launched an advertising campaign that -- after asking permission to access your webcam -- will track your eyes while you watch their video, and every time you blink, the video will change (watch for yourself). While this is just a gimmick at the moment, it paints a picture of the direction advertising could soon be heading in, where ads could rapidly change in a desperate attempt to hold your attention if your eyes started wandering. Of course the more disturbing aspect of this is that people willingly gave Richard Branson access to their home computers.
Facebook Will Soon Start Adding 15-Second Video Ads in Your News Feed
In an effort to get around AdBlock's annoying habit of annexing every ad off to the side of the page, Facebook has begun selling video adspace directly in the middle of its users' news feeds, because "not being a shithead" isn't what made Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire.
Get ready for a hard Zucking.
So in the very near future, for every 20 updates on your news feed, you'll have one 15-second video ad for some terrible new Matthew Perry sitcom. Oh, and in case you're worried about accidentally overlooking one of these gems, have no fear -- every single ad in your news feed will autoplay to ensure maximum browser-crashing enjoyment.
Adblock Plus Won't Block Ads if You Pay Them Off
"Whatever," you might be saying. "I don't need to worry about any of these shenanigans. I've got Adblock Plus." Well, prepare to have your goddamn universe shattered, Hypothetical Person Who Thinks They Know Everything, because Google has started paying Adblock Plus to ensure that their ads make it through unfiltered.
"Yeah, it's Adblock Plus ads. We don't understand how you could be confused by this."
Paying to get on the so-called "white list" of sites given a free pass by Adblock Plus has saved Google almost a billion dollars, freeing up the revenue necessary to build robots that stare at your face and read your mail. So really, Adblock Plus is only as trustworthy as a part-time bouncer with a massive coke debt.
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