It's an Ad, Ad, Ad, Ad World, the Sequel






Ad World

Ad World Sequel





Where do we go?


As any movie studio executive would tell you, if you've got a successful product, make another just like it. Even if you don't, keep trying.

Orwell is not the only author to have a claim on the future. Foucault's panopticon also serves as a adequate model for the future of advertising. Foucault's panopticon functions as a method for surveilling an environment, whether it be a prison, a school, or any other place that needs to be watched. However, in the world of advertising, you are not surveilled to keep you in check, but to get your check.

Before the rise of advertising on the Internet, advertisers could not get reliable feedback on the effectivness of their advertising. They had to rely on occult methods such as Nielsen ratings, coupons, sales revenue, and customer response forms. With banners ads, site tracking, and site statistics, advertisers could "see" a user click on the banner ad to the online store, "see" the user browse through their offerings, "see" how long they stayed at the site, and "see" whether the user purchased anything before he or she left. The advertisers can now determine if a one-to-one correspondence exists between their ads and their sales.

One wonders whether being able to see the customer this intimately could repurpose some of the equipment used in stores in the real world. Security cameras help prevent robberies and shoplifting, but perhaps more revenue could be generated overall if the cameras were used to track the customers' movement through the store. The manager could see where they walk to most frequently and sell shelf space to companies based on this information. If senior citizens rarely wander more than 20 feet from the front of the store, then perhaps the store could stock items for them near the entrance.

Examples of the panopticon model of advertising already exist in the form of barcodes. When you check out, the barcodes on the packages tells the store what items you are purchasing and by the time you get your receipt, the store can already print out custom coupons from competing companies urging you to try their comparable offerings. (Snow Crash has its version of the barcode panopticon when the police scans Y.T.'s barcode on her chest and instantly knows everything about her life.)