A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Online Advertising: The Creepy Factor

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Before you dive into the highly-targeted advertising pool, consider this conversation pulled from my Facebook feed recently. (Names and profile pics masked to protect the ineloquent.)

The second comment pretty well sums up the educated consumer’s take. The first comment, though, is where the real action is. Most people, even those of us who know what’s happening and why, find it a little creepy that the web seems to be following us. 

No “seems to” about it. Various search engines, retailers and publishers are all following our activities online. And while there are some advantages to having your behavior tracked, it’s still new enough that it makes people uncomfortable.

It’s also a little annoying to keep getting the same ads after they’re no longer relevant. I get that “they” can’t know I wound up buying prescription sunglasses at a local shop after researching them online. But if Amazon can figure out that I might be interested in ads for a cordless drill because I spent time on their site looking at cordless drills, why can’t they figure out that they should stop those ads because I bought a cordless drill? From Amazon!

So be careful with your advertising. You may be freaking potential customers out, or annoying them. This is an area where you may want to let consumer confidence catch up with the technology before you dive in. (Plus – and you knew this was coming – content marketing is going to be more effective in the long run, anyway.)


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