Advertising is Fishing for People

I think it is interesting that Jesus’ first disciples were fishermen who were asked to fish for people. You can have the best product, service, or idea and people will not know about it unless you are able to be successful with your advertising strategies. An advertisement is an attempt to capture a person’s attention. Our attention is extremely valuable and every good advertiser knows this.

As a software engineer in organizations which must protect information, I have done security training which taught me how to avoid becoming an attack vector within an organization. I was taught about phishing, spear phishing, and whaling. Each of these techniques correspond to generalized strategies which can be used by individuals or organizations in their advertising efforts.


For the phishing technique, you can imagine a large net that is being used to catch fish indiscriminately. There is no concern for targeting a specific species of fish with this fishing technique. The fisher of people will send out emails to as many people as they can without doing much research about the individuals behind those email addresses. This kind of technique is comparable to buying an advertisement with a broad target audience because you haven’t researched your ideal customer and their needs.

Spear Phishing

For the spear phishing technique, you can imagine the standard fisherman with a rod and reel who chooses hooks, lures, and bait for a limited number of fish species. In the security world, an email may be targeted to employees of a specific company or those who have a specific role within their company. This technique is comparable to buying an advertisement with a narrow target audience: like “stay at home moms” for example.


For the whaling technique, you can imagine a boat of fishermen who are targeting a big whale. This technique has no known parallel to paid advertising from 3rd parties. But it is “the technique” used by many successful organizations throughout space and time.


This blog is sometimes a phishing technique which targets a broad audience but that is not its primary purpose. My efforts to participate in discord servers where I have conversations and share my blog is an example of a spear phishing technique. And my private messages are an example of a whaling technique.

In the advertising space there are words like “prospect” and “conversion”. A prospect is any person who engages with me in some way. A conversion is a result that I want from the prospect.

My goal is to facilitate education. The desired result is an individual recognizing a mistake they were making and correcting that mistake. Some individuals have the attention of larger audiences and when those individuals are propagating bad ideas (or mistakes) then there is an impact which is related to the number of people being possessed by that bad idea (accepting the idea without critical thinking). And so I guess that teaching an individual with a larger audience will have a bigger immediate impact than teaching an individual with the smaller audience.

Note that having an impact with an individual who has a small audience is valuable because an individual can become part of the overall education campaign where spear phishing and whaling techniques can be leveraged.

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