Saturday, January 14, 2012

Online ad targeting run aground

The targeting of online ads is alternatively accused of being so exact that people fear for their privacy and so untargeted that people claim to ignore ads completely due to irrelevance.  As with most things, the truth is in the grey middle.  Online ad companies make huge efforts to increase the relevance of ads, but most of the ads served to people fall short simply because of frequency.  Internet users see over 2000 ads per month!

Once in a while, however, the veil is pierced and users can not only see the targeting working, but see it not working.  Today, it was not working to hysterical effect.  Below is a story on Yahoo! about the cruise ship that ran aground.  It was a spectacular sight and had life and death ramifications.  You can't help think of the Titanic when reading this story.  Yet, as you scroll down, on the right rail there sits a 300 pixel wide, 250 pixel high advertisement for Holland America cruises.  I'd bet my next balcony suite that the Holland America campaign was targeting content related to cruises!  As Homer would say, "Doh!"  This is a clear failure of the advertiser, their agency and the targeting companies involved to avoid content with the words "sink", "capsize" or "aground".  But it's great material for Jay Leno...

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