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Paul Merage Professor Talks About Invasive Instagram Ads

Paul Merage Instagram

An article on Wired integrated the acumen of UC Irvine professor Loraine Lau-Gesk. The article, written by Liz Stinson, evaluated the questionable results of some of Instagram’s tailored advertising techniques.

Lau-Gesk studies the influence of emotions in consumer decision-making and the role of culture in consumer persuasion and judgment. Stinson sought the professor’s expertise after encountering an upsetting Instagram advertisement about freezing her eggs. The ad pictured a sperm and ovum with the caption: “When you freeze your eggs, you #freezetime.” Many women vented their frustrations with the ad in its comment section.

Stinson’s article explores why and how this ad campaign had found her, and the implications of online advertising that utilizes eroding privacy standards to target consumers. It makes sense that online marketers would seize the opportunity to use personal data as a marketing tool. Freezing eggs, however, is controversial to begin with. Stinson cites the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, both of which have said it is too soon to guarantee the safety of egg freezing for healthy women.

In addition to the procedure’s questionable safety, there are emotional implications to implying that a woman should consider freezing her eggs. Societal pressure to procreate before a certain age is intense even in a more modern world.

Lau-Gesk encouraged Stinson to consider why this ad had affected her so deeply. The question was essentially about whether she was upset because the ad had missed the mark, or because the ad was too good and had hit too close to home.

Ultimately, Stinson decided that regardless of the reason for her discomfort, the ad was invasive and overly-familiar.

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