Buying local extends to advertising


(Portland) Commercial Review

When is it irony and when is it hypocrisy?

Those of us in local media want to know.

Take the plunge into internet social media, Facebook in particular, and you’re likely to encounter posts from small businesses you know urging you to “shop locally.”

But here’s the thing: Facebook isn’t local.

It’s a gigantic corporation reaping zillions of dollars in revenue by collecting individuals’ personal data and selling it to marketing companies. And when a local small business uses Facebook to advertise — because it’s “free” — it’s not shopping locally.

In fact, it is actively undermining other local small businesses: Local media.

Jay County and its surrounding area represent an anomaly. The community has locally-owned print media and locally-owned radio.

Those media compete with one another in a friendly push and pull. But they have one thing in common: They are part of this community.

They’re not based halfway across the country. They’re not part of some faceless corporation. They are local.

We are local.

The fundamental fallacy of using social media like Facebook for advertising is the notion that it is “free.”

It’s not.

It’s just that the transaction doesn’t involve dollars and cents.

It involves data and algorithms and personal information that can be mined and mined and mined. The real costs are hidden, but they are there and they are indeed real.

We would also argue that — in an incredibly rich media environment — social media only deliver one tiny piece of the pie.

In the larger context of the internet, cable TV, land-based and satellite radio, and scores of print products, it’s just one sliver.

And, again, it’s not local.

Want to support local businesses? We do too.

But the only way to do that — free of irony or hypocrisy — is to support local media as well.

Anything else doesn’t deserve the label “local.”

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