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  • Emily Lea

My Observations After Quitting Adblock

Up to my second semester of college, I used Adblock on its highest and most unforgiving setting. I didn't have any personal vendetta against internet advertising (in fact, I've since found many online ad campaigns I love), I just preferred a less cluttered user interface, and trying to find the real "download" button among six fake ones was irritating. Finally, I accepted that this wasn't sustainable with my major and slowly weaned myself off. In my journey back to the unfiltered internet as a newborn web advertising baby, I realized many things had changed since 2012.

  • Native advertising is becoming much more convincing.

Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's human nature to feel immensely creeped out by sponsored content that disguises itself as part of the site. It's easily identified by anyone looking for the sponsor, but many casual readers wouldn't notice the more seamless product placements while quickly scrolling through BuzzFeed, a leader in native advertising. It's a concept I'm not quite used to, but I have to respect the skill required to camouflage advertising.

  • The level of targeting is amazing.

The precision of ad targeting these days is common knowledge, but I'm still impressed every time. I once spent upwards of an hour on Amazon trying to find the best rug for my bathroom, then, after giving up and closing the window, immediately found the perfect choice from an ad. I'm not an easy person to reach through advertising in general, but the algorithms have it down to an exact science. Seeing the process in action makes me excited about the future of the industry as a whole. Like the first point, though, it also makes me a bit nervous.

  • Brands' social media accounts should cut down on the memes.

To be fair, Adblock never really saved me from this one, but I couldn't stop myself from mentioning it. Occasionally, appealing to Millennials this way works, but the successes of meme-using accounts like Wendy's and Denny's are the exception rather than the rule. Without a social media staff who truly pay attention to the humor and language the ad seeks to replicate, the attempts fall short and look lazy or out of touch with the target. In my opinion, the whole technique usually isn't worth the involved risks.

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