In today's hyperconnected, global commercial world, targeted advertising is a hugely important part of marketing. Companies are able to pinpoint receptive audience demographics based on age, sex, education and income and promote products to them.
It's pretty well known, for example, that if you shop for something on Amazon, you will receive recommendations for products similar to your previous purchases and banner ads for similar products on other sites that might suit you. Google Adwords has dynamic remarketing and displays its ads at the top of search results.
None of this is going away any time soon. Digital advertising budgets are increasing and audience participation through social media allows for a two-way communication system: advertisers receive more precise feedback and consumer-participated movements, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge, spread.
Online audience participation in the social sphere is something many companies are looking to harness. In the online gambling sphere, for example, things are heating up: well-known gaming site Mr Green Co, which offers hundreds of free games and promotions, was recently signed by digital gaming solutions provider NetEnt and marketing tech business Ve Global. This deal will help break down the barrier between advertisers and consumers through more human marketing.
Elsewhere, influencer marketing is on the rise, with audiences more likely to trust an online peer review than branded content - brands now work with influencers whose audiences align with the products they want to promote and the promotion thus comes off as natural.
So where does the PS4 fit in the world of targeted advertising? In a word, uncomfortably. Overall, PS4 owners go for the console because they want a gaming device. When the most recent generation of consoles debuted in 2013, the PS4's focal selling point was its capability as a games console first and foremost, whereas Microsoft's Xbox One was considered more as an all-round entertainment machine essential for a family living room. This limits the types of targeted advertising you're likely to find on the PS4.
It's actually quite easy to avoid any targeted advertising using the console, as it doesn't require an internet connection to use (unless, of course, for multiplayer games) and there are options to remove most, if not all, of the featured content that appears on the console's home menu.
Recommended items based on your previously played games in the PlayStation Store are less intrusive: to a certain extent, they're to be expected in an online shop. Yet these adverts appear by default even to PlayStation Plus subscribers. Given that they are paying for an online service, they're justified in asking that the homepage at least be free of ads. PS4 has its own software and is separate from internet browsers, so it's very obvious when third-party advertisers are trying to sell their products on the console's menu and stores.
It's interesting to see how targeted advertising on the PS4 will change in the near future, especially since it's been out for five years and the announcement of its successor is surely imminent.
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