What the internet has done to social media will be talked about for the next hundred years, as it has changed the game for so many industries, especially advertising. Take Facebook for example. Everyone has one. Okay, not everyone, but about a sixth of the entire population (1 billion people) are active users, which one can leave up to the imagination the number of people who have simply used Facebook once in their life.
Facebook users post all types of information on their profile, from photos, personal information, relationship statuses, school, and location, also known as Big Data. To any consumer targeted business such as retail or advertising, this information a goldmine, as they are only a couple clicks away from obtaining information from a billion people. From photos for example, you can see that Person A has recently posted pictures of his snowboarding trip in the Swiss Alps. If companies could obtain this information, stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods could specifically display ads related to snowboard equipment or discounts, and even airlines can post cheap tickets to other popular snowboard sites.
The popular TV show Mad Men depicts scotch drinking, heavy smoking advertising kings who utilized their creativity to come up with the best advertisements. 50 years later today, all advertising companies need is access to this data so that they no longer create blanket advertisements singling out a specific demographic, but create advertisements actually single out specific people. Moreover, the number of clicks on any ad can be specifically monitored to track its success in real-time.
While all of this sounds like a hop, skip, and a jump towards profit, there are some issues that arise such as correctly sifting through data, and privacy. The former is the difficulty associated with knowing exactly what’s relevant to said company, and the latter is more of a moral issue, which is why I said “if companies could obtain this information.” I know I personally wouldn’t want firms snooping around my profile and looking at my pictures, regardless of how much I save on product X.