Thursday, February 13, 2014

targeted advertising

Matt hates advertising, so when I couldn't get him to watch the puppy commercial I ended up defending ads. Mostly, of course, ads provide me with all kinds of amazing free services (subsidized by people who don't bother installing adblocker...) But they're also occasionally informative. For example, I'm quite happy I saw an ad for Doritos locos tacos when they were invented :)

The weird thing is, untargeted ads are the ones that are more likely to actually succeed at getting me to buy something. There are of course the trivial comically extreme cases of failing targeted advertising, like when you buy one pair of leg warmers on amazon and then are bombared by ads for legwarmers, as though you might want 12 more pairs, but that's not even what I mean. Telling me about economics books or hard drives or telescopes is never going to be a successful strategy (unless maybe it's a special discount sale) because I already know what I want in those areas.

But ads for cars keep me informed as what's available nowadays so I know what I want to look for when I get a new car eventually, likewise for phones or computers, fast food ads regularly get me to try new junk food inventions, special sale ads for grocery or department stores or restaurants are useful, etc. Ads for baby products and cosmetics and jewelry are never useful, but anything in that valley between "irrelevant" and "highly relevant" has a decent shot at being useful.

I wonder if it's just me, or if companies haven't yet figured out how to get at that sweet spot.

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