For example, searching for ‘Shakespeare’ returns a number of high-quality results (see Fig. 3), high-quality in the sense that the results are from reputable sources and pertain to William Shakespeare (of course, judging the results as successful relates to the subjective intentions of a user). In doing so, Google wanted users to place their faith in the advertised links as representing more useful or relevant answers than the search results. For You is essentially an AI-powered collection of stories based on the data Google has collected (such as search trends and location). For Pasquinelli, the profits Google makes are part of a wider shift within existing economic and social arrangements, which he describes as ‘cognitive capitalism’ situating his work within a Post-Fordist framework. For Pasquinelli, the information that PageRank uses is latent in the network and Google’s algorithm is simply organising it rather than creating or producing something new. The way in which the advertising is so embedded in the function of Google’s search engine complicates an existing notion, borrowed from older media forms such as television or newspapers, that advertising revenue financially supports a medium but fundamentally stays separate to the content of that medium.
The technique is basic – displace offending search engine listings by favorable listings. Secondly, it is also ‘art’ in the sense that it relates to advertising as a ‘magic system’: a set of practices and cultural myths to perpetuate an unfulfillable materialist desire that serves as an economic engine. In addition, the standardised format in which sponsored links are presented cuts out the art of advertising (see, again, Fig. 1). With this outlook, AdWords barely seems like advertising at all. Google’s algorithm, as with its organic results, aims to weed out any misleading, irrelevant or ‘inferior articles’ (as Williams’ 1859 newspaper puts it) and, as outlined above, only charges companies for advertisements when, after Google has selected them as the most relevant, they are actively chosen by users. As outlined above, the way in which AdWords functions as a ‘global real-time and multilingual market’ (Kaplan, 2014, p 59) mapping capital directly to specific words and phrases seems at odds with the kinds of advertising that set to establish a generalised demand in a mass market. The most significant of which is that tracing data patterns as a way of mapping ‘relevance’ draws from the existing behaviours of individuals rather than following any specific normative judgements established by Google.
To Williams, advertising should be understood as a kind of grammar for a specific historical moment. One of the key narratives of advertising, for Williams, is the expansion of its scope, as its function grew to cover an increasing number of commodities and services. 2. Not detailing a phone number in the review of the video or the lower third of the video. You might have even purchased your Android phone simply because you had app fever! The Hindi support is not completely new to Google Assistant as Google Allo received a native Hindi Assistant back in December 2016, and Google showcased a specific Google Assistant version for Jio Phone with support for both English and Hindi languages at Google for India event last month. Famous online news platforms such as News-Times India usually come up with the category specific content to provide the exact thing that readers seeking. However, these superficial descriptions are not what defines advertising; Google’s AdWords functions to structure and control the flow of information and capital in this specific moment of contemporary capitalism.
Instead, users are reimbursed through free access to Google’s services, regardless of their level of input. This further demonstrates a characteristic of cognitive capitalism in a wider Post-Fordist context: when users are online they are often unknowingly participating in immaterial labour practices and are collectively remunerated through access to a digital service. Mass cultural appeal gives way to the long tail of niche commerce; one-way channels of communication and influence become algorithmic feedback loops based around the harvesting of personal data; the growth of immaterial labour expands the reification of previously unmarketable activates into profitable goods and services. Williams’ history of advertising, although first published in 1980, was written in 1961 and thus ends before the explosion of information technologies, globalising tendencies, and restructuring of traditional modes of labour that Post-Fordism describes. To stress the historicity of advertising, Williams begins by dismissing a dominant conception that the history of advertising can be traced back to documents such as a ‘three thousand year old papyrus from Thebes, offering a reward for a runaway slave’ or he adds, tongue-in-cheek, ‘some pleasant recollections from the Stone Age’ (1980, p 170). Instead, advertising ‘was developed to sell goods, in a particular kind of economy’ (1980, p 183) and following its history from the seventeenth century onwards one can trace how it intersects with the changing nature of capitalism.