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Who Instagram thinks I am: Instagram ads

By Mariana Chajon

Photo via Sarah Dawood - Design Weekly


Instagram Ads are constantly interrupting our scrolling with anything that mildly targets our individual demographic. This begs the questions; does it affect who we are as individuals and consumers?

Instagram uses a set algorithm to deduce what type of personality you have to show you ads based on their assumptions. There are many ways in which they categorize you, for example: your love life, your age group, your occupation, your hobbies, etc. With this information, Instagram throws ads your way that they think comply with your identity.

Our generation is already predisposed to over-consumption. We are not only encouraged to keep up with trends, but shamed if we don’t. Instagram ads encourage this mentality. They advertise far more than just trends, but trends specific to the type of person we are. I’ve gotten ads for student contests, foods I’m craving or talked about, and tv shows on my netflix watchlist. I think something, and within the next few weeks, days or even hours,  Instagram has already flooded my feed with advertisements on the subject. With unwanted ads every two to three stories, we need to be mindful of their influence on us as consumers and individuals.

When anything we want is rendered accessible by a “swipe-up” and cheap prices, it changes the way we view the general market. How many times have we looked at something in a store and said “I could get it for cheaper online”? We are less prone to spend our money on our local market because larger enterprises such as Amazon fit the student budget. These enterprises aren’t as transparent as local businesses, and are most likely damaging socially, economically, and environmentally. As much as it is attractive to keep up with trends and get the things we want quickly, as consumers, there is a responsibility to remain aware of the impact our consumption has on the world.

On a positive note, there are some ads that are beneficial to communities. I’ve seen small, emerging artists promoting their work, ads for québécois movies or tv shows, and ads for music or film festivals. When used properly, Instagram ads are a great tool for artists. Another great thing about Instagram ads is that it will show you ads for things you are passionate about, due to their specificity. I’ve found information related to my hobbies thanks to the ads. There are also a lot of ads meant for students: scholarships, contests, internships, trips, universities, etc. It can be a lot more effective than putting up posters around the school or word of mouth.

The way Instagram ads affect our psyche may be beyond our control, but we are definitely in control of the actions we take.

If we act with awareness every time we make a purchase, we can find a balance between the world of over-consumption, supporting local businesses and artists, and finding useful items and information!

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