What does economics have to say about the huge amount of advertising directed at us everyday, much of it specifically targeted in this age of surveillance capitalism? Is it informative, manipulative, or something else? Should governments do anything about it and regulate advertisers and surveillance capitalists such as Google, Facebook, and other big tech companies? EP144 of Economics Explored features a frank and fearless conversation on advertising touching on surveillance capitalism with John August, Treasurer of the Pirate Party of Australia.
About this episode’s guest – John August
John August is the Treasurer of the Pirate Party Australia and a Fusion Party candidate for the electorate of Bennelong in the 2022 Australia federal election. John does computer support work in retail and shareholder communication. He is passionate about justice and ethics in our world, particularly as it plays out in law generally and intellectual property in particular. He has stood on behalf of the Pirate Party in the Federal seat of Bennelong and also as a Councillor for Ryde City Council.
Along with technology and law John is also interested in spoken word and poetry. He broadcasts on community radio and hosts the program “Roving Spotlight” on Tuesdays from noon-2pm on Radio Skid Row Marrickville Sydney, and writes about his ideas on the website www.johnaugust.com.au.
Links relevant to the conversation
Kyle Bagwell’s superb monograph on the economics of advertising:
Talk on the Age of Distraction John mentions:
Bureau of Meteorology Online Advertising Policy
New search engine which doesn’t serve you ads or track you:
EconTalk episode Gene mentions:
Sridhar Ramaswamy on Google, Search, and Neeva - Econlib
• Facebook ad revenue 2009-2020 | Statista
Chicago-School-type perspective on advertising:
Drop the opposition: Advertising benefits us all
Originator of the term positional goods:
Fred Hirsch - Social Limits to Growth
Thorsten Veblen’s classic of economics:
The Theory of the Leisure Class - Wikipedia
Episode 22 of the show on hipster antitrust:
Antitrust & “Hipster Trustbusters” with Danielle Wood from Grattan (NB The show name has been change since then to avoid a clash with a popular YouTube channel)
Episode 21 of the show on surveillance capitalism:
Surveillance Capitalism with Darren Brady Nelson
Deloitte report for advertising industry body mentioned by Gene:
Advertising Pays | Deloitte Australia | Deloitte Access Economics, TMT, Communications
Hotelling’s paradox (or law) mentioned by John:
Hotelling's law - Wikipedia
“Hotelling's law is an observation in economics that in many markets it is rational for producers to make their products as similar as possible. This is also referred to as the principle of minimum differentiation as well as Hotelling's linear city model.”
Links re. permission marketing:
Thanks to the show’s audio engineer Josh Crotts for his assistance in producing the episode.
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