Advertising Rhetoric in Digital Media: A Survey (Annotated Bibliography)

Goldfarb, Avi, and Catherine Tucker. “Online Display Advertising: Targeting and Obtrusiveness.” Marketing Science 30.3 (2011): 389–404. Web. Goldfarb and Tucker find that advertisements that clearly targeted have positive results with regards to increasing customer “purchase intent.” Furthermore, they find that obtrusive ads generally also increase “purchase intent.” It is when these two qualities are combined that this purchase intent metric goes down, possibly signaling either irritation or discomfort at the combination of clear targeting and obtrusive advertising. This further adds to the discussion of the interaction between the consumer and the advertiser, wherein the consumer, now armed with ad blockers, is forcing the advertiser to either tone down the size/annoyance of their advertisements or stop the high levels of cross-website targeting.

Sableman, Mark, Heather Shoenberger, and Esther Thorson. “Consumer Attitudes Toward Relevant Online Behavioral Advertising: Crucial Evidence in the Data Privacy Debates.” Thompson Coburn Research (n.d.): 95–109. Thompson Coburn LLP. Web. Sableman’s work is, at first, contrary to the work of Ur and Goldfarb. He finds that customers actually do appreciate getting advertising targeted to their particular needs, but only if it fits within the category of “first-party behavioral advertising,” wherein the user’s activity is tracked on a particular website, and content is then tailored based off of that site-specific browsing. An example of such would be how Amazon pulls together recommended lists of goods based on prior browsing history, or how Netflix pulls together lists of “shows you should watch.” It appears that this goodwill from the consumer disappears when the advertising enters the realm of third-party, which involves browsing history from one corner of the internet affecting advertising in another. An example of this would be if someone who regularly visits espn.go.com/nfl/ started to get a lot of football-specific advertising whenever they visited Amazon.com. This dichotomy reveals a lot about how users interpret their “safe spaces” on the internet, and will lend depth to an analysis of how users interact with advertising.

Shoenberger, Heather. “Online Behavioral Advertising and the Ethics of Privacy.” Persuasion Ethics Today. Comp. Margaret. Google Books. Web. Shoenberger discusses the threat that this mode of advertising has to individuals’ privacy — in particularly, how a breach of the user databases held by advertising analysts firms can result in “employers or criminals using your personal information to deny you a job or steal your identity” (148). The work begin with an introduction of the OBA phenomenon (she also uses the Amazon example), but then diverges from the work of the other authors (who focused on user databases) by looking at the potential ethical dilemmas faced by those who store massive amounts of user data for advertising purposes. She goes on to cite a variety of sources that represent both sides of the argument — some claiming that end users appreciate targeted advertising, whereas others indicate that consider it a breach of privacy.

Ur, Blase, Pedro Giovanni Leon, Lorrie Faith Cranor, Richard Shay, and Yang Wang. “Smart, Useful, Scary, Creepy.” Proceedings of the Eighth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security — SOUPS ’12 (2012): n. pag. Web. This text follows “48 semi-structured interviews about Online Behavioral Advertising,” and in doing so, presents the reader with the opportunity to get a glimpse into how the “average user” perceives being targeted by online marketers. Key word, here? “Scary,” as this is the newest emotion that end-users associate with targeted online advertising. This article goes into depth with regards to the “mechanics behind OBA,” as well as previous end-user studies that have been done regarding the effect of this phenomenon on browsing habits of the internet user and online shopper. Furthermore, this study has particular value due to the fact that it focuses on how the customers themselves interpret OBA — for example, there is a subsection dedicated to what processes and emotions individuals associated with the icons and links that manifested themselves on the pieces of advertising. Furthermore, summary data is presented concerning the interviewees’ opinions, attitudes and concerns regarding this new development in advertising, which culminates in intriguing conclusions imbued with the idea of “consumer choice” and how such choice is exercised by the consumer. The value of such a piece in a Wiki regarding advertising and OBA is obvious, as it allows us to discuss the “Customer-OBA relationship.”

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