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Friday, September 9, 2016

'Black Ops Advertising' Book: Survival Guide for Internet Users

This diversion from reviewing DVD and Blu-ray releases is an Unreal TV public service announcement on the extent to which big business uses stealth advertising techniques to adapt to the new media reality. "Black Ops Advertising," which awesomely progressive OR Books is releasing on September 13 2016, by marketing expert and professor of media studies Mara Einstein nicely trains the reader in the art of identifying the copious advertising that is camouflaged as news content and social media activity. Shew truly cannot do a little because she cannot do enough.

Individual excitement regarding "Ops" extends beyond learning of the general impact of this trickery on your not-so-humble reviewer. I learned of the new breed of deceitful advertising practices in a 2015 story by "Community" and "The Daily Show" veteran John Oliver on his HBO series "Last Week Tonight With John Oliver." (Apparent Oliver fan Einstein prints a quote from that story on the front page of "Ops.")

A more personal "Ops" experience relates to this site providing a respectable web presence that includes a decent community of Twitter followers. I repeatedly used the latter presence as a forum to express intense frustration (e.g., Apple CEO Tim Cook is not getting the "Jobs" done") regarding an unduly extended struggle resolving an iPad repair. The SWAG that Apple sent after a roughly two-month struggle included a $300 pair of beatssolo2wireless headphones.

Excitement regarding receiving a total of more than $400 in cool merch, and being appreciative of the grand gesture prompted taking an iPhone photo of the booty and posting it on Twitter within 15 minutes of it arriving. Dopey me just wanted to express that amazement and gratitude. "Ops" taught me that I am no Einstein in that I did not realize that Apple both determined that I was enough of a online player and that you kind folks who keep this site going adequately fall in the desired demographic to send this bounty, knowing me well enough to know that I would provide at least $417 worth of advertising. I truly am sorry readers.

Reading "Ops" has made me savvy enough to realize that the above few paragraphs unintentionally promote Oliver, his prior shows, "Last Week," HBO, and Apple. Once again, this is not my intent. However, drinking Bud Light is too severe a penance.

My intent is to provide you with my thoughts regarding "Ops" and to let you decide if you want to add it to your library.

The most disturbing reveal in "Ops" is the extent to which what almost no one can detect ads that are not news stories seeming to be such. Einstein uses egregious examples of publicity stunts that all of us who remember the reports regarding them recall them as being news. These "for instances" include the story of Robert Downey, Jr. committing the allegedly charitable act of strapping on his Iron Man arm to support a young hospitalized armless boy trying out his bionic arm.

"Ops" also discusses the copious sponsored content that appears on legitimate news sites that also fool most of us. A  PURELY hypothetical example roughly six weeks before Trick-or-Treat time is a link on a page of the Washington Post website to an article that promotes raisins as a healthy alternative to handing out candy that the marketing department at Sun-Maid raisins covertly writes.

The analysis of Einstein regarding all of the above and a great deal more shows that adapt or perish requires that advertising techniques be creative with little or no regard for ethics in an age in which print media is all but dead, DVRs and streaming platforms allow avoiding commercials, and other 20th century forums for advertising are equally endangered or extinct. As Einstein point out, some of the related problems are that these commercial messages are well concealed in the numerous way that "Ops" discusses and the public is duped into revealing personal information in covert ways about which most people who do not read the book will never know.

Proof that the ability of Einstein to get into the mind of the consumer but uses her power for good rather than for evil comes in the form of occasions on which a perfect storm prompts literally shouting "leave me the f**k alone" while surfing the web. This intense anger stems from the countless time that even brief casual searches for things such as a jacket from LL Bean or for hotel rates for a trip that never is going to be taken leads to ads for that EXACT attire or lodging appearing on the VERY NEXT unrelated website visited following that research. This can cause a feeling that Big Brother is exhaling hot foul breath right on my neck.

Einstein aptly describes her secondary message as there not being a "free lunch" or other benefit for nothing. The lesson this time is that we all must directly or indirectly pay for any utilized media. The problem is that we know traditional ads when we see them and can avoid. As "Ops" illustrates, McDonalds buying ads during "Happy Days" episodes in the '70s is a far cry from an even inadvertent click on a link to the McDonalds website leading to ads for chicken Mcnuggets haunting you for the rest of that web session.

Einstein goes on to predict the future of media and advertising that validates the (still growing) Unreal TV DVD library consisting of most likely more than 10,000 total TV series and films. The sad part of all this is that Einstein shows that Tomorrowland is far from the happiest place on earth.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Ops" is strongly encouraged to email me. You can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy. Rest assured that this will not trigger any ads.