THE ALGORITHMIC FLOW OF HARMFUL INDUSTRIES ADVERTISING ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Keywords:Social media, advertising, identity, participatory methods, promotional culture
AbstractAdvertising shapes our larger public culture but the typical experience of advertising is now confined to our private and algorithmically-customised social media feeds. In this project, with our partner VicHealth, we used a participatory digital method to work with 204 young Australians aged 18 to 25 to collect 5169 examples of alcohol, gambling and fast food advertising from their social media feeds. We analyse the collections of advertisements each participant sent us. The patterns across participants’ collections illustrate how social media platforms’ advertising models ‘learn’ to reflect and reproduce the identities and subject positions of participants. The collections of ads we see on social media are an important object of study because they reveal not just the symbolic content and targeting patterns of particular ads, but also because they illustrate how advertising on social media algorithmically-curates an immersive cultural experience. Our study demonstrates how social media continues the larger social role advertising plays in the construction and maintenance of consumer subjectivities. The algorithmic flow of advertising on social media is now the basis of our everyday engagement with advertising. We need to conceptualise advertising on social media not only using concepts of ‘targeting’ that imply the precise identification of our characteristics, but instead as a complex feedback loop between the refinement of ad content and themes, the data-driven optimization of audiences, and our reflexive and fluid identities, interests and aesthetic sensibilities.
How to Cite
Carah, N., Brown, M.-G., Dobson, A., & Robards, B. (2023). THE ALGORITHMIC FLOW OF HARMFUL INDUSTRIES ADVERTISING ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2022. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2022i0.12985