Too Many Crosshairs
Theoretically, targeted ads are a beautiful thing. If I only see ads that are relevant to me, then I might actually welcome them and see them as a valuable part of my media experience.
Theoretically, targeted ads are also more valuable than ads targeted to an audience aggregate. In a perfect world, this will allow digital media companies to scale back the avalanche of shitty little punk ads they currently hurl at us.
So, theoretically, I like targeted ads.
However, when targeting is both persistent and wrong, it can get down right creepy. Last November, I was looking for a short term apartment in Tokyo, and www.sakura-apartments.com is the market leader, offering partments all over Tokyo. In English.
So I showed them some love, spending a considerable amount of time on their page. But the moment I left their site (without booking), I found myself under a steady shelling of Sakura GoogleAds, regardless of where I went on the web. And even after I had left Japan, the barrage just would not stop.
The following are but a couple of screenshots I started taking after more than two months of total Sakura immersion. More than two months filled with constant variations of a very irrelevant offering.
Imagine a Mariachi band that just won’t leave your table. Now imagine that same Mariachi band showing at the office, and in your living room. For weeks.
In the end, I got desperate and decided to try a headfake. I used a different mail account to send a “departure note” to my gmail account, hoping that the everwatching googleeye would recognize the futilty of showing me further ads.
About a week later, the ads stopped.
I am not sure if it was the headfake or my February trip to India. But boy I am glad that the other websites I visit aren’t as zealous in their targeting as Sakura.