Improving Advertisements; Identifying Resistances to Online Advertising

Author: ORCID icon
Hesselroth, Aidan, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Elliott, Travis, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Foley, Rider, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Graham, Daniel, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

Over the course of the past century, technology has developed at an unprecedented rate. This boom is perhaps best shown in the progress of computing and the development of the internet, both innovations that have spurred countless changes to every aspect of modern life. In many cases, the rate of advancement proves too fast for accompanying technologies and society to keep pace, which can lead to unpredictable consequences. One such area where the effects of the internet are far outpacing the abilities of society and industry to adapt is advertising. Advertising is hardly a new concept, but it has advanced in new and unpredictable ways with the catalyzation of the internet. For my technical report, I will take a look at how advertising works and some challenges facing it, as well as upcoming technologies and techniques that might resolve them. My sociotechnical thesis will instead focus on advertising and society through an analysis of recent major legislation.

In my technical report, I build off of my own experiences, contemporary journalism, research and opinion pieces to analyze advertising in the digital age. First, the current state of advertising is explored. Using this analysis, I identify several challenges that are facing the field, as well as some suggestions as to how they might be addressed. The main focus of my report is analytical, with supporting predictive and prescriptive elements. My major takeaways are threefold. First, while legislation has been relatively nonobstructive to date, that trend is changing; industry should pay close attention to governmental movement and stay flexible to adapt to new requirements. Second, machine learning is among the most viable routes of technological advancement, especially due to its ability to value metrics beyond the direct and immediate benefits. Finally, conflict between advertisers and ad blockers is likely to escalate, but this can be mitigated by making advertisements more appealing to the general public.

My sociotechnical thesis makes use of the framework of technopolitics to analyze more closely the attitude of governments towards online advertising. While this is a small portion of the analysis in my technical report, legislation forms the core of my sociotechnical thesis. By using the technopolitical conflict between freedom and surveillance, the relationship between advertisers, governments, data collection services and the general public can be analyzed. The General Data Protection Regulation from the European Union and the California Consumer Protection Act are used for the purposes of this analysis. I find that the ideals of surveillance, corresponding to the interests of advertisers, wins out in the CCPA, and by extension, the US. However the GDPR, and by extension the EU are more focused on the rights of the general public and the ideal of freedom. This may lead to a crisis for industry in the future as growing disparities in legislation require either universal extension of the harsher European protections or internet companies to manage multiple versions of web content tailored to local requirements.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Advertising, Technopolitics

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Daniel Graham and Rosanne Vrugtman
STS Advisor: Travis Elliot and Rider Foley
Technical Team Members:N/A

Issued Date: