Follow by Email

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Smart Advertising is Still Stupid

The promise of smart advertising is something we should all embrace.  Rather than being bombarded with advertisements that we find dull, uninteresting and repetitive, we will only see ads about things we actually want, when we want, and in a format that appeals to us.  That, at least, is the promise of smart advertising.

As with most advertising, however, what is promised is far different from what we get.  I see targeted advertising all the time.  I can often tell when an ad is being targeted at me.  The problem is that it does a very poor job.

For example, this morning of Facebook, I saw an ad for some power adapters that I had browsed on eBay the day before.  The caption read "take another look!"  The problem with this ad was that I not only browsed the product, I had purchased it.  Why is eBay not smart enough, or more likely not concerned enough, to block ads to products I have already purchased?  Similarly, I often see ads to buy items that I am trying to sell, probably because I looked up finished sales on various sites to determine the value of the item.

It has gotten to the point that when I want to look at a product that will trigger ads, I use my browser's "private" or "incognito" mode in order to minimize the trail I will leave for advertisers.

Smart advertising is in its relative infancy so it will probably get better over time.   Of course that can be scary too as advertisers learn not only what we like but what gimmicks prompt us to buy, and which targets are more or less susceptible to advertising in the first place.  It will become easier to prey on the weak and get into consumer's heads.  We will be more easily manipulated.

We are not there yet though.  For many of the ads that I see, I think to myself: I know where you targeted me for that, and you really need a much better algorithm.

No comments:

Post a Comment