Feb
17
2012
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Targeted Advertising

Some people freak out about targeted advertising, but I’m usually not one of those people. I think it’s funny when I get little recipes for spam casserole every time I empty my spam folder in Gmail.

Recently I experienced excessive targeted advertising after I spent 5 minutes browsing dresses on Mod Cloth. For the next several weeks, every place on the internet showed me the exact same advertisement. It showed a peach dress and a yellow dress from Mod Cloth and said something like, “Hello! Is it me you’re looking for?” After seeing it once I thought, “Those are cute dresses. Why didn’t I see them when I was at Mod Cloth the other day?” I almost clicked, but I was in a hurry.

After my 5th or 6th time seeing the ad, I realized. “Oh, I’m seeing this ad because I visited Mod Cloth the other day.”

After my hundredth time seeing the ad, I was annoyed. I refused to click on the ad or visit Mod Cloth because I didn’t want to teach the system that showing me something a hundred times works.

If you want to learn more about targeted advertising, and the disturbing amount of effort Target has spent trying to figure out how to manipulate pregnant women, check out this article from Charles Duhigg. It’s fascinating. And disturbing.

Why does targeted advertising bother me more when it’s targeted at pregnant women? I think I feel like they’re preying on our vulnerabilities. Maybe that’s because they are.

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