An Internet expert warned April 4 that the growing ability and influence of Web marketers might cause already-concerned consumers to turn off completely to advertising.
University of Pennsylvania professor Joseph Turow told an audience of Web advertisers and marketers that targeted advertising was moving to television and could have negative consequences for society. "We're going to see different kinds of ads and even different kinds of shows based on what companies think of us," Turow said.
Turow spoke at the "Occupy Advertising" presentation on the final day of the ad:tech conference in San Francisco.
Following Turow on the keynote stage was Paul Adams of Facebook, who discussed changes expected as the Internet advertising industry evolves.
Turow is the author of a new book, "The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry Is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth."
Turow said the influence of marketers could lead to "social discrimination" in which TV viewers and others were directed to ads and content based on their economic status.
"You are being tracked once you swipe that credit card," he said.
"People are concerned but lack knowledge. Consumers' lack of knowledge about targeted marketing will be another sore point once they find out," Turow said, and would lead to cynicism.
"People don't believe what they're seeing anymore," he said, a situation that would probably get worse. "Industry explanations of how the system works are laughable. Even people in the industry don't understand."
Turow also discussed one notable effect of the Internet on society, the 'upending' of the newspaper industry. He said as newspapers lost income from the migration of advertisers to the Web, the traditional separation of newsgathering from advertising was being eroded."This is changing the nature of journalism," he said.
Adams, Facebook's global brand experience lead, discussed the evolution of how his site saw its users and how they saw the site.
"Facebook is about people and their relationships," Adams said. "People live in networks but advertisers think of them as individual actors and one influencer."
He recommended that advertisers "think about Facebook differently" and to "invest in relationships" with consumers over time. "All of us are incredibly influential in certain aspects, but not in others," he said.
Adams is the author of a new book, "Grouped: How Small Groups of Friends are the Key to Influence on the Social Web."
This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out allvoices.com/adtech for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech San Francisco event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.