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The Attention Merchants, book review: Charting the rise of ad-supported media






The great comic poet Ogden Nash famously wrote:

"I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all."

Nash, who died in 1971, was marking the incursion of advertising along America's highways as car ownership became widespread enough to deliver a large enough captive audience. 




Today, we barely notice billboards what with rampant advertising noise: they're on cash register receipts, luggage carts, stair risers, everywhere people congregate, and everywhere online. 

Plus, each medium has ratcheted upwards its noisy demands for our attention: Nash's billboards were paint and posters; today Piccadilly Circus is barely visible under the LEDs.

In The Attention Merchants, Columbia professor Tim Wu, who coined the term 'network neutrality', surveys the history of advertising-supported media. 

Wu's story begins in 1833, when Benjamin Day figured out that he could sell his newspaper a lot cheaper than his rivals if he shored up reader revenues with advertising. 




He was, Wu writes, the first to understand that his customers were his product.

Today, all media homeowners recognize this, and 'cheaper' has given thanks to 'pay with data', that they fake suggests that 'free' -- a business model that physical-world entities (airports, retailers, and lots of others) ar scrambling to emulate via sensors and placement trailing. 

Wu's book outlines the steps by that we tend to ought to some extent wherever our attention is habitually confiscated. Snake oil salesmen, warmongers, RCA's want to sell radios, 2 world wars, personal reinvention, Nineteen Sixties culture, movies, TV quiz shows, and therefore the politics of picture show production all vie their half.



Counter-moves
Yet aboard these moves there have invariably been counter-moves once, as Wu writes, the general public begins to feel below the belt tricked, their attention confiscated while not their consent.

The city of Paris initially embraced the colorful posters taking drugs everyplace, then associate anti-poster movement fashioned to lobby for restrictions. 

Even advertising mogul David Ogilvy declared he meant to create a association to learn group by chopping down posters once he retired. 

Today, at a time once attention hijacking has colonized the online and been democratised via affiliate links and social media, that movement takes the shape of on-line ad-blocking. Wu recounts all this history in decreasing detail as he moves chronologically toward our time.




Five years agone, in his book Writing on the Wall, Tom Standage argued that the last 150-odd years of business media are associate anomaly. Before it came centuries, even millennia, of sharing data either without charge or obtained by patronage. 

Wu finds business notices and signs even in classical times, but, like Standage, he argues that a step modification came with industrialisation: that, he writes, is once attention became very important for commerce, which was after we began to lose management.


Ahmad Adnan Awriter and getting all news about technology

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