From Joseph Turow’s article, Audience Construction and Culture Production: Marketing Surveillance in the Digital Age, I found it very interesting how closely the strategies in marketing and advertising followed trends in manufacturing practices of the time. Starting from the early 1900′s, companies targeted the mass population, selling ads to people by “tonnage” in such a way that men, women, and children were as far as the audience constructions went. Similarly in manufacturing, tools such as the assembly line allowed businesses to mass produce their products. However, by the 1920′s, new manufacturing initiatives led companies to try product differentiation. Different versions of the same goods were designed to appeal to and serve different segments of the population. At the same time, this logic led to increased use of magazines and radios, which may have targeted more segmented groups than the television did.
As different products became more targeted towards different parts of the population, people continued to become more individualized, deviating from the generic “everybody” that the audience used to be. Marketers adjust their strategies to embrace the segmentation and individuality, while the diversity of the goods and the mechanisms behind which different information gets to different people allow people to further break away from already established audience constructions. This process seems similar to entropy in that the chaos of the system will tend to increase and never decrease – that is – people will only continue to become harder to classify, and targeting them will become more difficult. Clever selection and seduction of customers, as well as successful retrieval of their information, may be the winning strategy to ensure advertisers the power they once enjoyed.