Companies are planning to advertise in your dreams — and no, this ain’t The Onion

Published June 13, 2021

Your smartphone is always listening, even when you’re not using it. So researchers from companies like Burger King, Coors, and Xbox had an idea: What if your phone could listen for when you fell asleep — maybe by tracking your smartwatch data, or just listening for snoring. And then, what if it quietly played ads designed to influence your bleepin’ dreams? Not a joke. In fact, the possibility is serious enough that a group of sleep researchers signed an op-ed calling for some kind of regulation before it gets out of hand. (And we’re not just talking about, say, alcoholics or vegetarians.)
[Targeted dream incubation] advertising is not some fun gimmick, but a slippery slope with real consequences. Planting dreams in people’s minds for the purpose of selling products, not to mention addictive substances, raises important ethical questions. The moral line dividing companies selling relaxing rain soundtracks to help people sleep from those embedding targeted dreams to influence consumer behavior is admittedly unclear at the moment.