Thursday, June 25, 2009

How Behavioral Targeting Misbehaves

The other day I went to the website of a men’s clothing store. I wasn’t interested in buying anything. I just wanted to find out some information about the company.

That was three days ago.

For three days now, I’ve been inundated with nothing but ads for this company wherever I go online.

Before I visited their site, I didn’t even know they did digital advertising.

I do now.

I wish they didn’t. The fact is, after seeing nothing but their advertising online for three days, I now find the store to be quite irritating.

All the money the advertiser spent to run the the advertising has convinced me of only one thing. Never shop there.

And therein lies the problem with behavioral targeting. Because there isn’t enough advertising created for online use, what there is becomes over-used. Which in turn, makes it irritating rather than welcomed.

Of course, making advertising welcomed is what behavioral targeting is supposed to be all about. The promise of only delivering ads about products that your online behavior indicates that you should be interested in sounds good in theory.

But, in practice, it’s another story.

It’s not that I don’t visit sites other than men’s clothing stores. It’s just that those sites don’t have advertising ready to go where I go.

So instead I get one ad, over and over and over.

At this point, I’d rather be getting ads about products that I’m not interested in.

No, I won’t buy those products either. But at least my irritation would have some variety.

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