Everyone is familiar with it. Piles of paperwork in your letterbox, huge billboards in your local shopping centre and at least five seconds of nonsense before you can watch your YouTube video: advertisement is everywhere. But as annoying as it is and as much as people like to complain about it, how about the benefits?
Just earlier today I read a letter in the Metro, a free newspaper that is published in many countries around the world, in which someone complained about those annoying folders they keep getting at their house. Currently, in the Netherlands, there is the option to get a sticker saying that you don’t want those folders, but in his opinion, that shouldn’t be necessary: people should need to get a sticker if they DO want those folders.
It’s a brilliant idea. Sure, it would probably be a huge blow to the advertisement industry, but at least he wouldn’t have that annoying sticker on his door anymore! And who cares about the advertisement industry? It is particularly ironic, by the way, that he decided to send that to a free newspaper that is funded solely by advertisements.
Of course, there is a difference. Folders that are delivered from door to door have an environmental issue as well, but that wasn’t his reason for wanting them gone. He just thought they were a nuisance, and although he’s definitely not wrong about that, it might be a bit closed-minded to want advertisement gone all together. In fact, aside from being very hated, advertisement has been one of the most important and beneficial inventions of the past two centuries.
Have you ever considered how many things would not exist without advertisement? Google would probably not even have started their business, and if they had, we would have to pay to use it. The same goes for YouTube, which wouldn’t even nearly have as many content creators or viewers if you had to pay €15,- a month just to access that content. And that’s assuming it would still exist at all, because after all, in this world, Google Inc. wouldn’t have existed.
The same goes for those free newspapers such as Metro, television and the millions upon millions of jobs in the advertisement sector. Actually, if you think about it, the internet thrives on advertisement funds, and without it, it probably wouldn’t have turned into something everyone could use. I doubt you’d be able to have 3G on your Smartphone, assuming society would have progressed far enough to create smartphones in the first place.
Regardless of all that, the statement that advertisement has been the most important invention of the past two centuries might seem a bit excessive, but if you think about it… what else could deserve that title? Sure, cures for diseases are extremely important, but how would those have been invented or distributed without the existence of companies? Advertisement lies at the base of every commercial enterprise, and without it, they could hardly have existed.
Ultimately, advertisement will always be something that people complain about, but it is also something that will never disappear. And that’s a good thing, because in the end, advertisement is extremely important and plays a major (positive) role in our everyday lives. We just don’t always realise it.
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