Hart to Hart: Don’t get mad at ads

Story by Tyler Hart, Op/Ed Editor

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Don’t you hate it when you get a little Bieber fever, head over to YouTube to listen to his latest hit, and then have to sit through a 30-second ad about skin care products? Me too. JB shouldn’t have to wait for anything.

Jokes aside, it can be inconvenient. However, I think we’re all a little quick to dismiss the advertisements we’re constantly surrounded by. Sure, it’s cool to “reject the man,” but do you really want a life devoid of advertising? In reality, it’s much more important than it seems.

The biggest and most obvious benefit is that advertising allows us as consumers to get things for free. Be honest with yourself — would you pay five bucks a month to use Facebook? What about for watching YouTube videos or listening to unlimited music on Spotify?

We have access to a crazy amount of free entertainment, and all we have to do in return is spend a little time glancing over ads. Heck, we can even make money from places like YouTube for the content we upload (if you do, I’d recommend not clicking on your own ads. They don’t seem to like that).

And it’s not just the consumer who benefits. Regardless of how apathetic we are towards these ads, we’re still affected by them, and businesses know that. It’s a win-win situation.

Think about what type of shampoo you use. Why is that your preference? Odds are you either chose it because you thought it was the best or because it was the cheapest.

If you thought it was the best shampoo out there, you made your decision based on the bottle (which counts as an advertisement) or on a previous encounter with the brand. If you bought it because it’s the cheapest, you’re still being affected by advertising because the shampoo you just purchased is competing with other shampoos by being the lowest priced.

Brand loyalty is the goal of every manufacturer of a good, and it doesn’t have to be viewed as a trick being played on the consumer.  It’s useful to be informed of the options we have when we’re looking to make a purchase because we’re learning about things that could improve our quality of life.

Using the same product for a long time can create a sense of nostalgia, which has value in itself.

When I was old enough to start shaving (which was more recent than I’d like to admit), my dad taught me to shave with Edge shaving cream.

I’ve never considered buying a different product since then because of the personal connection I’ve made with the brand. Companies are constantly competing for brand loyalty because of the long-term economic benefits of a loyal customer.

Price competition is another benefit of advertising. When consumers are informed about the products they’re buying, they’ll know a good deal when they see one.  A great example is flatscreen TVs; a standard 32-inch was around $1,500 back in 2005, and now they’re available for well under $400. With more competition comes a better price.

Advertising would be a nightmare if companies could say whatever they wanted about their product, but we’re fortunate enough to have a government that regulates what can and can’t be said. Advertisers are constantly toeing the line that the government has drawn, but they get in serious trouble when they cross it.
I agree that a lot of commercials and advertisements, especially political ones, can get annoying. But think about how they, in their own way, create a sense of awareness in the general public that may not have existed otherwise. The insane amount of money that went into the recent elections served to create a sense of obligation for people to voice their opinions by voting.

In the end, advertisements prove to be almost completely positive for both the producer and the consumer. So feel free to enjoy your free music and phone apps, because you’re not the only one who’s winning.