Wednesday, October 30, 2013

3789 Missing the target

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

There's this thing I'm seeing more and more of, where someone is keeping track of everything you look at online, and then selling that information to advertisers, who then focus on your "interests" for those ads over there on the margins.  Targeted advertising.

Hey, folks, you're doing it wrong!

Like Amazon keeps track of what I've looked at or bought, and then makes suggestions, "just for me".  Only what they show me are things I've already looked at or already bought!  That makes no sense.  I already have it, or I've already rejected it.

When I buy something on eBay, I get a message that "People who bought [what I just bought] also bought [pictures of of similar items]".  Well, a couple of problems there:
1. There are NO other people who bought what I just bought.  I bought the only one.  You lie!
2. If other people bought these other things, they're already sold.  What help is that to me?

If I search for toy ovens, for days afterward I am inundated with ads for toy ovens.  Hey, I just bought one!

I have to draw on my eyebrows, and they frequently disappear within an hour, so the other day I searched for and bought a blond eyebrow pencil (actually a liquid with a fine brush to draw "hairs" with) that is guaranteed to last all day.  I bought it from a particular beauty supply outlet.  Now my margins are filled with ads from that outlet, not ads for any of their other products, but ads for the very same pencil I already bought.  Duh?

Targeted advertising is crap.  It's been poorly implemented by people who don't have enough brains to understand that people don't want to look at things they've already looked at.  It's being signed up for and paid for by retailers who are no smarter.

Maybe people might be interested in things related to things they've looked at? 

Like after I had looked at covers for the a/c units, maybe instead of throwing more a/c covers at me, you should suggest patio furniture or grill covers.  After I bought one John Smith book, instead of suggesting I buy that book again, maybe you could suggest other books by the same author, or a different author in the same genre.  After I bought the toy oven, maybe you could suggest other toys in the same age range.

I am especially disturbed by Gmail's scanning my emails for keywords.  I mentioned to a friend recently that I had gotten chubby since last we met (Yeah, I've gone from the size 6 and S I wore three years ago to 10 and 12 and M, and at my height, that's really chubby), just that one line, and suddenly my sidebar on Gmail is full of ads for shops specializing in foundations and those sizes with the Xs in them (which I can't wear no matter how big I get because the proportions are off for my height, the shoulder seams reach to my elbows).

One of these days I'd love to write an email full of exciting keywords just to see what happens - but I don't want to draw the attention of the NSA.

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