Let's say you took a baby and insulated the kid from all knowledge of advertised products for the first twenty years of life. Somehow the person still walks through daily life on an otherwise normal basis, it is just that the kid cannot see, hear, or feel the ads. The kid also can't ask his friends what the ads have to say, or which products they promote. So the kid will notice that Coca-Cola is in every convenience store, but he has to figure out for himself that the product is famous.
Now our insulated 20-year-old is about to enter the so-called real world. How much worse off is he?
I'm not asking about the net value of ads, but rather their gross value for a single individual. What benefits is the kid missing? Will he be a simple moron, unable to understand whether a Starbucks coffee is to be slurped or poured down the carbureutor? Or will he figure out the right cues in some other way?
I think the individual benefits from watching ads are pretty small. Is this just because the kid is still free-riding upon others' knowledge of advertisements? For the ads to provide their social benefits, how many people have to view the ads? Five hundred? Five hundred in each community?