Coded Spaces of Consumption

Keywords:

-Prosumption

-Customisation

-Brick and Mortar

-Architectural

-Captabases

-Spacial Fetishism

-Interdependendencies

 Definition:

Customisation is the allowance to personalize a product for a single individual creating a unique object. Customisation always existed but only for wealthy people whilst in our days it is available for everyone. It burdens our demands creating new markets giving greater demands for greater goods. It offers the chance of being more unique but most of all it allows the producers to use customised products in order to benefit in the production line. A clear example of customisation is seen with vehicles. This is because for an individual there are so many “possible permutations (engine specs, paint colors, interior trim levels, and accessories) that each vehicle can be almost unique” (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011 pp.187). Other examples are the customized phone cases and coca cola bottles where, the addition of letters, names or personalised quotes give more value to the product in the eyes of a consumer as he/she feels different and more important than the others giving a sense of major desire on purchased personalised products.

A short summary of the Article:

Coded Space of Consumption looks at how the software is reforming the nature of consumption in various ways. In the 20th century the West developed very much in terms of purchasing goods and services. Individuals no matter their class started to accumulate items giving them short-term value just for status, desire and novelty.

The software now has the power to shrink space and time giving each individual the flexibility to purchase in every place at every time. Coding in fact changed completely the way in which we purchase, giving space to new e-commerce possibilities and building relationships with customers making them feel part of the market but most of all keeping them loyal to their brands.

The way we purchase has changed completely too. There is no more the physical transfer of goods and primitive money has disappeared. What we live of in our days is just virtual and ‘direct debit payments;’ “virtual money consists of nothing more than a digital record residing in captabases, and software mechanics that enable value to be transferred electronically between accounts” (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011 pp.182). The article ends showing that software has enabled businesses to become geographically centered making others dissapear from stores and that there will be so many more advances in the digital world in terms of coding that will give the possibility to track a consumer/user reatil activities.

A brief reflection:

Software is making a difference to how consumption proceeds is because it reconfigures consumption’s underlying spatial relations” (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011pp. 181).

Space with technology does not exist anymore. It disappears the same way that time/temporality shrinks space bringing everyone and everything much more closer. For example with shopping, people can request any kind of object form every single retail store in the whole world at any time and in every place without even questioning the opening and especially the stress of the closing times of a store. There is no more stress since everything is now so close to all us human beings. It is absurd that by just turning on any kind of device and accessing networks individuals can satisfy their needs. It may seem a positive aspect which is sometimes but, the issue is that no one is realising how quickly everything is speeding up therefore we tend to forget how big is the impact that time has on space. This is because all of a sudden technology has the power to make everything become much smaller since all of a sudden the relationship between space and time expires very easily. This is clearly shown with facetime for example that thanks to this network, no matter how far two people can be, they share the same space just by looking into a small screen.

A question for classroom discussion:

Is the rise of mobile devices going to stop us from having real life experiences in terms of purchasing and communicating keeping us as human beings locked up from the outside world?

 

References: 

Kitchin, R., & Dodge, M. (2011). Chapter 9: Consumption. Code/space: Software and Everyday Life. MIT Press. Pp: 181-212.

Meet the Players in the New Advertising Food Chain

 Keywords:

– Paid Search

– Search engine optimization (SEO)

– Google search formula

– Purchase funnel/consumer decision journey              

– Google search formula

-Pay-per-click

 Definition:

Search engine optimization is a concept where companies focus at designing their advertisement in such a way where the many people searching for any product or service related to the company would at least follow the company’s link. Google ranks companies in their search list according to the prominence of the company as determined by Google.

A short summary of the Article:

Marketers are in a frenzy excitement about the search engine advertisement. The traditional advertisement designs were complex and not as effective as the current search engine advertisement. In the past, advertisements were designed based on consumer decision journey, which complicated the process of advertisement, as firms would have to design adverts according to the perceived design of the consumers. Today, the search marketers are using the search engine advertisement to reach a huge number of consumers. Today, marketers strive to connect Google searches with products that reflect more on the search terms. The search engine advertisements are of two major kinds: the search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search.

Through the search engine optimization, marketers always attempt to have their position in the Google search list on the top. Google uses a formula to determine which companies rank top in connection to specific search terms, the higher the rank, the better for the companies.

For the paid search, companies have a better opportunity though not always guaranteed to have their listing in Google search at better position. The process involves auction of bids for certain search terms by different companies. The company determines the bid winners through some complex process that includes the company’s reputation, relevance of the product and bid price. Google determines how it gets payment from the bid winning company.

A brief reflection:

“Google’s signal contribution to search engines was to define a site with a high reputation as one that has many other sites linking to it” (Turow, 2011 pp.66)

Technology has indeed changed the world mostly for the better; search engine advertisement has in essence been very convenient to consumers who are equally living in a world of such busy and tight schedule. Moreover, internet access all over the world has essentially increased especially with the mobile phone technology, which has increased connectivity. As a result, consumers have resorted to looking up for products and services over the internet. Many companies have tapped into the internet craze. Today if one wants to buy a camera for example, he/she only needs to Google certain words and Google will automatically bring search results depending on the relevant company. For example, if one wants to buy a camera, he/she only needs to type certain words such as “best cameras”. Google will automatically bring search results of related company lists. For this example, “best cameras”, Canon is the company whose name appears on the top most search results, followed by Amazon. This way, a consumer can choose to navigate through the different companies and determine which one is suitable according to his/her desires. It gets even better in cases where the company such as Amazon accepts online payment and delivery to the customers location. The method has been very effective yet there seem to be a lot that can be added to make it even more profitable, based on the possible improvement strategy.

A question for classroom discussion:

What can be done to ensure that companies all have equal opportunity for listing under the search engine optimization?

 

 

References: 

Turow, J. (2011). Chapter 3: A New Advertising Food Chain. The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth. Pp. 65-88.

Ad-Blocking

Keywords:

– Cookies

– Filter lists

– Third-party

– Ad-Blocking              

– Web privacy

Definition:

A cookie is a self-help technology more precisely a text file that saves your web browser. This creates a personal profile to the user. Despite its inconveniences: fragility, manual updating and expiry it remains the most adequate web tool because it conveys implicit consent. Many online advertising companies such as: ‘Interclick, Specific Media, and Quantcast’ used cookies with the purpose of tracking users. It has been discovered that one of the most famous global companies: Microsoft used cookies with the purpose of “syncing an advertising identifier across web properties” (Mayer, Mitchell, 2012 pp. 421)

A short summary of the Article:

People are really annoyed by web advertisements. They are finding techniques in order to avoid ads or more specifically to block them. According to Ads and Ad-Block usage in the Wild the most concerning source for advertising industries is, Adblock Plus. The reading shows that this tool is a great threat to advertising industries since “More than 30M users surf the web daily […] with this extension enabled.” (Pujol, Hohlfed, Feldmann, 2015 pp.1) This brings obnoxious advertisements to appear in the web and revenues of industries decline. This is because, “Ad-Blockers […] ‘evade paying’ for the content they consume.” (Pujol, Hohlfed, Feldmann, 2015 pp.1) The basic functionality of this tool is to filter advertisements which appear in a users filter list and if they match a URL, Ad-block Plus will immediately block the site from the browser, reducing web traffic and avoiding the advertisements. There are 22.2% of active Ad-Block plus users. Furthermore, it is shown that “Adblock Plus users […] do not configure it to protect their privacy” (Pujol, Hohlfed, Feldmann, 2015 pp.7) but just to get rid of the invasive adverts.

Looking closely, Third-Party Web Tracking: Policy and Technology focuses majorly on ‘privacy implications’ examining how First-party websites enable Third-party to gain information from users. In other words, how the evolution of the web has made easily identifiable the identity of the users through out Web tracking and Third party. This is clearly shown with Facebook for example that “over 800 million users […] provide their real name to the service.” (Mayer, Mitchell, 2012 pp.415)

A brief reflection:

Privacy issues are a huge concern to society. This is clearly shown with the social network ‘Twitter’ that gives access to third parties to browse a users activity by looking at the exact time and location of publication. Taken this case, a competitor of a company could easily track a consumer profile looking at his browsing activities and can sell and steal the tracked data from the company profile just for their benefit. A very clear example is one of the most common scenarios which has been reported: “A hacker breaks into a tracking company and publishes its tracking information, causing some embarrassing fact about the consumer to become known and inflicting emotional distress.” (Mayer, Mitchell, 2012 pp.416) This is a clear harm to the consumer and it shows that there is no market pressure since the majority of the users unfortunately do not know the existence of many Third Party websites.

A question for classroom discussion:

Is the subscription to Ad-Blocking tools going to make adverts disappear or is it going to continuously track individuals searches and store huge amounts of information that will result in future threats to whom is accessing the web?

 

References:

Mayer, J. R., & Mitchell, J. C. (2012, May). Third-party web tracking: Policy and technology. In 2012 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy (pp. 413-427). IEEE.

Pujol, E., Hohlfeld, O., & Feldmann, A. (2015, October). Annoyed Users: Ads and Ad-Block Usage in the Wild. In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM Conference on Internet Measurement Conference (pp. 93-106). ACM.

Gender, Body Image.

This blog post will focus on females and how they are portrayed by society. In other words, how the perception of beauty has been changed focusing on body image. The weight obsession is an issue that will always exist. It is interesting to notice that advertising has the power to transform what is the perception of beauty and sometimes it makes a woman feel unsatisfied with herself. In the past decades the problem was about being too lean whilst in our days there is the fear of gaining weight.

“Men wouldn’t look at me when I was skinny.” (Toya,2011).                                                    Image 1 is a vintage advert that presents a joyful woman with curves proud of her having gained mass. The lady sees a positive change in her body and she seems thankful for it since she claims that she can have what ever man she desires. But what if a lady was naturally skinny? Looking at the adverts of the past decades, being thin wouldn’t have permitted a woman to be accompanied by man and this is a result of not being accepted and appreciated by society. This claim is strengthened by looking at Image 2 where there is a skinny figure admiring a lady with curves and advertising a product Natural Mineral Concentrate that would have gave the possibility to skinny girls of gaining weight. How beauty is seen in terms of physical appearance is completely shaped by society and especially advertising. This may lead to great psychological issues where a woman will never feel enough and will never appreciate her natural gifts.

“What gives Victoria’s Secret the right to say what a “perfect” body is?? Stop body shaming!!”(Freda, 2014).                                                                                                                           The comment above was done against the campaign shown in Image 3. The advert presents ten skinny models posing for a very famous company which day by day seem to damage a woman’s self esteem (Freda, 2014). Why does a company so famous such as Victoria Secret present a problem of body shaming instead of raising it’s awareness? Unfortunately woman because of advertisements are really insecure of themselves this is because they buy products which are presented on skinny people thinking that it will have the same effect but the result is “All this does is perpetuate low self-esteem among women who are made to feel that their bodies are inadequate and unattractive because they do not fit into a narrow standard of beauty. It contributes to a culture that encourages serious health problems such as negative body image and eating disorders.” (Bahadur, 2014).                                                                                                                                             Advertisements are showing society that in order to be perfect you have to be skinny, have long legs, flat stomach and visible body bones. Men tend to admire much more skinny girls and especially models, ignoring women with curves that once were the more venerated.

The adverts that have been done in the past decades and in our days are really offensive towards woman. They do not accept natural bodies as it is shown but especially, no matter how you look like you will need to change in order to be accepted by society and looked in the way a woman wants to be looked by men.

 

Image one

Source : http://thelimericklane.com/2011/11/vintage-ad-men-wouldnt-look-at-me-when-i-was-skinny/ 

adv 1 body

Image two

 Source :  http://thewvsr.com/naturallyskinny.htm

adv 2 body

 

Image three

 Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3027776/Plus-size-clothing-company-Lane-Bryant-hits-Victoria-s-Secret-provocative-lingerie-campaign.html 

adv 3 body

 

References:

Bahadur, N. (2014). Victoria’s Secret ‘Perfect Body’ Campaign Changes Slogan After Backlash. HUFFPOST WOMEN, 11 June.                                                                                       Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/06/victorias-secret-perfect-body-campaign_n_6115728.html [Accessed 2 April 2016].

Freda, E. (2014).Victoria’s Secret “Perfect ‘Body'” Ad Campaign Sparks Outrage Online. E!. Available from: http://www.eonline.com/news/593050/victoria-s-secret-perfect-body-ad-campaign-sparks-outrage-online [Accessed 1 April 2016].

Toya (2011). Vintage Ad: “Men Wouldn’t Look At Me When I Was Skinny”. The Limerick Lane. Available from: http://thelimericklane.com/2011/11/vintage-ad-men-wouldnt-look-at-me-when-i-was-skinny/ [Accessed 1 April 2016].

 

 

 

Race, the big issue

Did the discrimination of race change in the advertising industry?  This discussion looks at  how during the period of ‘High Imperialism’ there was a notable racial difference between the European powers for the control of Africa whilst in our days it seems to be as if new messages have been sent through out campaigns in order to break down this ideal of inferiority within races.

In the 19th century, the images shown of black people in advertising were only associations of them being portrayed as slaves (Graca da Silva, 2012).Their inferiority was shown majorly when talking about hygiene where it was stated that “white was associated wit light cleanliness and purity, whilst black evokes darkness, dirt and evil.”(Bolaffi, 2003). The faces of black people appeared to show the difference in contrast of skin color from black to white. This is clearly shown in Pears Soap advertisement. According to Image one, it is clear to notice that the white boy is assuming a posture of superiority towards the black boy as if he is teaching that through Pierce he will learn how to become white and pure. This reinforces the idea that being black was “negative” (BBC News, N.D.). Moreover the calm expression of the white boy suggests that “he is elegant and of a higher class” (Visual Culture Blog, 2016) unlike the black boy that has a smile on his face. The discrimination towards black people was a big issue, individuals did not have rights and were never considered. Luckily things started to change.

Thanks to the brand Benetton, Oliviero Toscani wanted to spread awareness by introducing a “new language” (Gentili, 2015). This would have changed the perception of society talking about race, starting by the fact that the brand would have been spread internationally and be seen as United. The promotional campaigns would have touched delicate themes such as race. In fact, Luciano Benetton explained that their purpose through advertising was: “we did not create our advertisements in order to provoke, but to make people talk, to develop citizen consciousness,” (Blickwink, 2012). This is clearly shown in image 2, with an advert from 1991 which gives a powerful message to the audience about unity. The image is showing three different races under a single blanket which symbolizes union and gives a sense of reassurance and family. This advert has a powerful impact to the audience as the difference in skin color is combined through the gesture of the elders having their hands clasped together. The black arm is over the white one. This may be interpreted as a symbol of purity and mutuality between races. Everyone is portrayed as being the same, under the same sheet and holding tightly together.

The idea of superiority and inferiority seems to be changing and thanks to advertising the messages that adverts are sending are really powerful. There have been notable changes from the 19th century to the 21st where the advertising industry is managing to change the perception of society into a unite world.

 

Image one

Source : https://www.google.it/searchq=pears+soap+advertisement&espv=2&biw=1164&bih=592&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj2g5zcsYrMAhXKDSwKHZXSBKkQ_AUIBigB#imgrc=mylMnkJ46cB9DM%3A

pears.png

Image two

 Source : https://www.google.it/search?q=united+colours+of+benetton+blanket&espv=2&biw=1164&bih=592&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi0_5uk3ZrMAhWIPxQKHZ-aBrkQ_AUIBigB#tbm=isch&q=united+colours+of+benetton+ad&imgrc=qlmgNY-XOY69dM%3A 

united-colors-benetton

 

References:

BBC News (N.D.). Black Representation in Advertising. BBC News. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/02/uk_black_representation_in_advertising/html/3.stm [Accessed 3 April 2016].

Blickwink (2012). 10 Most Controversial United Colors of Benetton Ads. Alistgator. Available from: http://www.alistgator.com/top-ten-controversial-united-colors-of-benetton-ads/ [Accessed 4 April 2016].

Bolaffi, G. (2003). Dictionary of Race, Ethnicity and Culture. London: SAGE Publications.

Gentili, A. (2015). “Behind” the Colors of Benetton: the reasons of Benetton’s controversial success. Riflessi Storici. Available from: https://riflessistorici.com/2015/09/01/behind-the-colors-of-benetton-the-reasons-of-benettons-controversial-success/ [Accessed 4 April 2016].

Graca da Silva, S. (2012). (Dis)Entangling Darwin: Cross-disciplinary Reflections on the Man and His Legacy. Cambridge: Scholar Publishing.

Visual Culture Blog (2015). Pears’ Soap Advertisement Analysis. Visual Culture Blog. Available from: https://thefutureisvisual.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/pears-soap-advertisement-analysis/ [Accessed 4 April 2016].

 

 

 

Conspicuous Consumption

Through advertising consumers seem to buy expensive and luxurious products just to show their wealth instead of what their real necessities are. This act is called Conspicuous Consumption. People tend to buy products just depending upon high perception of brand image rather than having an item that satisfies the needs of the consumer. “Thorstein Veblen coined the term conspicuous consumption in 1899 to describe spending with the intention of gaining social status” (Ordabayeva and Chandon, 2012).

Image 1 is an advert that portrays a provocative woman used to represent the luxurious car brand ‘Aston Martin.’ The product itself is not shown but since the target audience seem to be male, the brand decided to put a desirable woman in order to attract the public and show what they will be able to possess once they buy the car. This is an example of conspicuous consumption since it is telling the consumer that if they buy the product they will have the one thing that a man desires which is showing wealth through luxurious brands even if it will result in a huge loss of money. What if you do not have the luxury products, would you be nullity? Berger, J developed this point claiming that “‘If you are able to buy this product you will be loveable. If you cannot buy it, you will be less loveable.” (Berger, 1972). Through the act of conspicuous consumption it seems as if it is all a matter of appearing that will result in a battle between the great loss of money by purchasing an Aston Martin but on the other hand the brand image is so powerful that if you buy the product you will be able to obtain the fame that in this case will give you a provocative woman.

Back in the 18th century, what symbolised social status was for example silver, gold and expensive clothes, which still seem to be very admired in our days. Image two in fact is an advert of 1766 which was selling items that were aimed at wealthy families in those times for example horses. The items that were advertised in Image 2 don’t appeal to just one market which is the wealthy class but it also looks at the general public. This is shown clearly when the vendor includes items such as “gloves, blankets, buttons” to give possibility through conspicuous consumption to permit lower classes to be satisfied. This has been done in order to make people feel equal, alleviating what can be called as a “psychological pain.” (Tutle, 2010).

To conclude, conspicuous consumption seems to be a topic for which many individuals are affected by. Adverts influence consumers to enhance equality and invest more that will result in giving them benefit and gain a higher social status. But in the end, “it proposes to each of us that we transform ourselves, or our lives by buying something more…it will make us in some way richer — even though we will be poorer by having spent our money.” (Berger, 1972)

 

Image one

Source : http://a-white1215-dc.blogspot.it/2013_10_01_archive.html

aston.png

Image two

 Source : https://adverts250project.org/tag/conspicuous-consumption/

article.png

 

References:

Berger, J. (1972). Ways of Seeing. London: BBC and Penguin Books Ltd.

Ordabayeva, N. and Chandon, P. (2012). When Spending Hurts. The European Business Review,  22 July. Available from: http://www.europeanbusinessreview.com/?p=2578 [Accessed 5 April 2016].

Tutle, B. (2010). Psych Study: When You’re Bummed, You’re More Likely to Buy. Time, 7 May. Available from: http://business.time.com/2010/05/07/study-low-self-esteem-makes-you-more-likely-to-buy-luxury-goods/ [Accessed 5 April 2016].