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Also known as a personal ad or an advert, a personal advertisement is a type of self-promotion advertising in which an individual uses various media outlets to seek some type of relationship with others. While this approach has been traditionally utilized in print media applications, the advent of the Internet has led to a wide range of so-called online personals that make it possible for people to promote themselves to individuals who have similar interests. Using this method of seeking to establish connections with others offers a variety of benefits, but can sometimes carry a degree of risk.
One of the most commonly known examples of a personal advertisement is an ad in which an individual is attempting to find a romantic partner. For many years, newspapers around the world would include what was known as a "lonely hearts column," offering a means of lonely people who would like to meet someone with similar interests to submit a description along with a listing of likes and dislikes, and what that individual would like in a romantic partner. As part of the process, responses were sent to the newspaper and were then forwarded to the individual who initiated the advertising. This process helped to protect the anonymity of the person seeking a romantic partner while also making it possible to choose which of the responses were interesting enough to pursue.
With the advent of the Internet, web sites devoted to personal advertisement for everything from friendship to romance to casual encounters have become common. Most of these sites provide some level of security, in that initial contacts are made through the site in the form of email messages or online chats. This makes it possible for anyone who is not interested in the contact to decline, without any identities being revealed. Some of these online personal advertisement sites are free to use, while others require some type of subscription fee in order to make use of a wider range of communication options.
While a personal advertisement strategy can often result in meeting interesting people and forging lifelong relationships, care should be taken in making use of either online or offline personals options. Along with access to people who are also seeking relationships of some type, there are those who abuse those services in order to scam others or even do harm to people after gaining their trust. For this reason, many print media publications as well as web sites urge advertisers to exercise wisdom and discretion when it comes to interacting with other people, and avoid being placed in a situation where they could come to some sort of harm.