Advertising in a Digital World

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communications class we discussed how digital growth has most dramatically changed in the advertising industry. Advertisements have become more diverse as we continue to see changes in technology. Below are a couple examples of what we talked about in class.

  • Ads in Facebook videos. Facebook showing advertisements in their videos is now similar to how we see many videos on YouTube. Since Facebook always looks to be the most dominant social network out there, they continue to add features and limits to specific parts of the site – in this case, video. Facebook won’t allow you to share a YouTube video on their page and have it auto-play, mainly due to the fact that they want you to upload your video to their site (it shows up as a thumbnail when shared from YouTube. This also allows them to places ads in the video and make money that way. Users typically have to watch some or most of an ad before watching a video – a new, kind of forced, way of advertising. Facebook is also encouraging video advertisements for your business – read more here.
  • Snapchat geofilters. Snapchat geofilters (see samples below) are one of the more diverse out of the most recent digital advertisements created. Snapping a video or photo and then swiping left allows you to choose filters based on your location or a campaign that is going on. For example, as you can see below, most cities now have filters for you to use when you send your snaps to others – which, in turn, promotes the city. Many companies use this technique to spread awareness of their brand, campaign, or event. One example that comes to mind is the show Scream Queens. I remember seeing commercials for it on TV, but when the pilot show was about to come out, a Snapchat filter was created to promote the show. The geofilters usually are unique and entertaining, which leads to “snapchatters” to use the filter – without always realizing they’re helping promote a brand, campaign, or event.

snapchat geofilyersPhoto source: snapchat.com/geofilters

Other advertisements we see today include podcast ads, social influencers, personalized ads tailored to our Internet activity, and much more. All of these have impacted the advertising industry greatly – making it harder to keep up with all the different platforms to use, but also making it easier to reach the target audience. It’s funny to think about how radio, print, and TV were the most popular way to advertise – now there are almost too many!

Advertisements

Can Big Data Prevent Fake News?

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communication class, we discussed “Big Data” and how it influences what we do in our daily lives. According to SAS Institute Inc., “Big data is a term that describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. But it’s not the amount of data that’s important. It’s what organizations do with the data that matters. Big data can be analyzed for insights that lead to better decisions and strategic business moves.”

The bold part of the definition is important to consumers because it changes our buying experience. For example (a favorite example mentioned in class), if I am booking a flight on Expedia and it says “20 people are looking at this flight right now” or “2 spots left on this flight” – typically I would purchase the flight quickly so I don’t lose my spot. But, this is just marketing. Big Data is helping Expedia and other companies create tactics like the ones stated above to make consumers spend money.

Big Data changes how we shop, travel, eat and even how we interpret news stories. While their are tools to fight against fake news, sometimes it relies on the user to determine the validity of a story.

“The problem is that users are generally disinclined to take the extra effort to check. Even going to a website, tool, or app to verify a story before sharing it is more effort than most people will take,” Bernard Marr said in his Fake News: How Big Data And AI Can Help article. “Until big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning enabled tools become more sophisticated and reliable, we need to focus on educating people (starting as early as primary school) to be critical thinkers and not take every story at face value.”

While the above article mentions the tools that are helping fix this void of sharing or reporting fake news, I agree that the problem does rely on the user. We talked a couple weeks ago in our class about how the Internet has changed how we read, write, speak and listen – all of which definitely apply to social media. Our attention span is short; we want to read something short and know the point behind it immediately.

Many people don’t open an article before reading it – they just assume it is true. I believe this is how fake news is spread. Users see a headline of an article that sparks their interest, they share it, it keeps circulating, and before we know it – it’s everywhere (and it is fake). Most articles like this would be reported as “fake” if the users simply read it before sharing. I see this happen a lot on my personal feed.

Unless we educate users from the very beginning to be critical thinkers, will fake news ever stop being shared? Will users read more than just the headline? To that end, can Big Data really prevent fake news? I’m interested in your thoughts – leave your comments below!

P.S. Here is some other news about Big Data:

Social media – How has it changed your social life?

Many say social media has made us more social, while others say the opposite. Social media allows us to connect more with others on new levels. On the contrast, we are able to hide behind social media when we are too nervous to speak to someone in person. It all depends on our personality and the social activity. According to Imtiaz Ali’s “Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media on Society” article, we can see the clear positive and negative effects of social media. While there are several points to list on the impacts of social media, I am going to highlight one positive impact from the Ali’s article, and a negative impact I view for myself.

One of the positive impacts mentioned says “social networking sites is to unite people on a huge platform for the achievement of some specific objective. This is very important to bring the positive change in society.”

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Toby was our first rescue dog as a couple. Read more about Toby here.

I believe the above statement is true. There are so many groups, events, etc. where people who share the same interests can come together to achieve an ultimate goal. For example, I have a passion for saving animals – so I’m part of many local and national pet groups on Facebook where I can share fundraisers, animals needing foster homes or advice. This has helped me make a difference in many lives – I know I wouldn’t have been able to save as many lives as I did without Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. Another positive note is I have made many animal rescue friends along the way! I know this has made me more social because I’m able to speak on my beliefs more freely than I have before.

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Sammy, Scrappy, Eli & Moe wouldn’t be alive if social media didn’t exist.

A negative aspect about social media is a person’s need to share content to make his or herself feel good. To me, this is not a healthy way of thinking. People share selfies, some over-the-top information on their relationships, where they are eating or where they are traveling to – there is no privacy. I understand if you are excited about something and want to share it, I do that as well; but everyone knows those particular friends who stick out and do a lot of it solely for the attention. What happened to just calling up a friend to tell them your happy news? These days, we are expected to broadcast our news on the internet – for people to like or dislike – then decipher that person’s motive. It somewhat makes us less social because we can’t just tell people news in person; we have to wait for their reactions, if any, on social media.

There are numerous other reasons why social media has made us more and less social. Social media has definitely impacted how are society acts and thinks compared to how it did previously. I do think, overall, social media has helped bring many people together for causes and other endeavors – this helps make a difference in the world – something I’m always a fan of.

The Internet: Making the World Smaller

In this week’s “Introduction to Digital Communications” class, we discussed how we define the Internet. We broke off into five groups – I was with Brenna and Jenny. My group came up with the definition below.

Internet: A global environment that connects people, enables communication, and fosters the sharing of information instantly from any location on a wide variety of devices.

While we were thinking of ways to come up with this definition, Jenny noted that the “Internet makes the world smaller.” I thought this was a very interesting thought; it is so true. Almost everyone in the world is connected to the Internet; thus, making it easier to spread global news stories, communicate with others, etc. I think it truly does make the world smaller because we share more with all Internet users than we would if we didn’t have Internet at all. Websites have even “died” – such as myspace, askjeeves.com, and BabelFish – because the Internet keeps evolving. We all become globally connected and learn more about each other this way – whether it’s a person, country, industry, etc. – it connects us deeper than ever before.

Internet gives us everything quickly. We are able to find answers to questions, connect with others more through social media, shop online with just “1-click,” and much more. The Internet has changed our lives indefinitely, and it makes you wonder what life would be like now if we never had it.

How digital convergence has changed us

Digital convergence is coming together of multiple media entities over time. This combination of media platforms allows us to view content in many ways. For example, we no longer get the news just from the newspaper or television; we can get it on social media and mobile applications, too. The way we read or listen to the news is a combination of the five eras of communication: oral, written, print, electronic and digital (Campbell, Richard, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Fabos. Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (2016 Update), 10th ed.. Macmillan, 2016.). The way we define digital convergence focuses on one, some or all of these eras.

Along with the various ways we get our news, comes “fake news.” How do you know the difference between real and fake news? It can sometimes be obvious, and sometimes be hard to determine. People share articles without reading them (they just read the headline) and we may not know if they’re valid unless we do some investigating. Here are some ways I verify real news:

  • Check for grammatical errors.  Editing is key with breaking news! If there is an error, that means the person or organization is not paying close attention to how users will view the content.
  • Check other news-related websites to see if there is a similar story. If I don’t find another story that is related to the original article I saw, especially if it’s breaking news, I won’t believe it until multiple news channels push it out.
  • Check out the source who pushed out the news. With all the satire websites out there, it’s important to check where the news is coming from. I typically will trust the national organizations (CNN, Fox News, NBC, etc.) and some local channels.

The examples above were some of the verification procedures we discussed in my first “Introduction to Digital Communications” graduate class. While there are many other ways to determine fake news, I believe the three above are the most important. The way digital media has changed news, it’s more important than ever to fact check the article.

Digital media has completely changed the way we function in society – it truly amazes me how different the communications world is from when I was little and how it is now. My age group was probably the last group to experience childhood without cell phones and know what life without social media was like; however, I do see the advantages of social media and I embrace it! Social media has been very good to me. Here are some things that I was able to achieve with it:

  • My job. I was living in Columbus, Georgia and was trying so hard to find a job in Syracuse for when I knew my husband and I were moving back. I luckily was able to find my job, Web Specialist II at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, through a LinkedIn post.
  • Maintain relationships. Digital media has helped me stay in touch with family and friends all over the country. Not only am I able to share updates with my Facebook friends on my life, but it’s another way to communicate via messenger, photos, status updates, etc. One great example is when my husband was deployed overseas. He had no access to a phone, but with the magic of Facebook, we were able to talk almost every day. Back when my mom deployed in 2002, I unfortunately did not have this advantage. I’d have to wait days to get a phone call from her.
  • Save lives. I am a huge advocate for animal rescue. When I lived in North Carolina, I learned how harsh animals are treated in certain states. Through the power of social media, I was able to connect with others at numerous shelters, especially Harnett County Animal Shelter, and join groups to help save lives. I can honestly say my family was able to save many lives all because of social media!
  • My dream of doing a flash mob! It was always been a goal of mine to participate in a flash mob dance, and I was able to successfully do this on our wedding day! It sounds crazy to include this as an example, but it really is crazy how it all came together with a group of girls scattered across the country – thanks to private Facebook groups and other social media outlets. You can read more about the flash mob here.

With that said, I think my age group had the best of both worlds – life with and without social media. I can truly say that I benefited greatly from both times in my life. While digital media has been around for many years now, it still continues to change. I’m excited for what the future holds!