Facebook ads. Instagram ads. Twitter ads. Have you ever been tempted to consume a product or a service that you absolutely did not need? What was considered as a virtual second life has suddenly been converted into time-consuming contents displayed all over users favourite online platforms. In fact, it is not a secret that social media advertising has become a key part of most marketing companies. Quite simply, display advertising on social media is any kind of paid content on a social media network. Newberry (2016) states that the option run from a one-off promoted Tweet or Facebook post to a full-scale campaign with major budgets attached. In other words, display ads allow advertisers to create highly targeted campaigns based on what they know about their customers, such as interests or demographics. Following to this, a budget is set to reach the target audience and start showing ads to people who will be more receptive. In fact, the former Product Manager at Facebook, Antonio Garcia-Martinez states that social media accumulate a great number of data from their users’ real online life, including their credit card purchases, thus, as soon as the users go online, the social platforms are gathering data for advertisers’ use. (BBC Panorama, 2017). So, is displaying adverts on social media a brainwashing technique to control users in their buying decisions? Brainwashing has become a term that most business people would prefer to be distanced from, and most would prefer it not to be referred as a marketing technique. The concept of brainwashing is a psychological thing in order to be able to control the thoughts of customers in its most extreme form. Consumer behaviour is a popular area of interest within marketing (Haenlein M, 2009, p.103). Therefore, social platforms are more effective than regular websites for displaying ads as a great number of users are accessible.
However, as Chris Weller adds, the same tactics advertisers use to get people to buy products have been used to inflict great psychological damage (2015).
Moreover, the director of Marketing in the high-Tech industry, Samuel Scott, the future of display advertising on social media will depend on whether the industry can fix this problem and rebrand itself as an honest advertising medium. The Media Rating Council aims, to evolve and determine minimum disclosure and ethical criteria for media audience measurement services
According to the American online marketing strategist, David Meerman Scott, social media is about engaging people socially not about advertising. Simply paying for access is nowhere near as effective as actually participating in social. It is similar to emotional manipulation.
Is there a line drawn between marketing and brainwashing?
Instead of paying for attention, there is a need to consider how you can earn attention by becoming part of a community.