No Appetite For Cookies

In the video This is Digital Marketing: From Ad Men to Math Men, the folks at Mediative illustrate the concepts of display marketing/advertising and data tracking, whereby user behaviour can be tracked across multiple sites with complex cookies. This produces a goldmine of data about every site and page visited by a specific user. This information is harvested and collected with other data such as geographical location, and used to create targeted display ads for each user. The theory is that these ads derived from ‘intelligent tracking’ will create a more personally relevant experience and are more likely to be associated with the products and services that internet users need.

But what if the user isn’t influenced by ads and does not want tailored suggestions? At the risk if sounding naive, I will say that no amount of personally relevant information in a display advertisement will influence my current buying habits. It’s still an ad being shoved in my face…and now it’s getting down right creepy.

As a user who has never clicked on—or made a purchase based on—a digital ad, I can comment that this targeted approach attributed to the ‘Math Men’ might be having the opposite effect. To me, this approach feels invasive.

The video’s explanation suggest that this is a solution to a 100 year old problem of uneconomical
advertising spending.

Google Maps Ads, Location based advertisingThis new “math” may not apply to users like me because we are an extreme minority, but it remains imperfect for another reason: the ever-growing consumer distrust of advertisers and social media giants like Google and Facebook who also hold an unspeakable wealth of private consumer information in their grasp. If these giants are not trusted, then it stands to reason that more users will either stop using them eventually (stats will argue against this point) or just ignore what they are trying to sell.

When I want to make a purchase, I rely on reviews and word-of-mouth testimonials. I remain distrustful of sales people and place little value in their suggestions. This includes ads displayed on Google, Facebook, etc. and the some of the advertisers who use them. writer Jennifer Slegg, writes about a recent development in location-based advertising in Google Puts Local Ads on the Maps App. One can imagine useful applications for travellers and tourists, and the multi-tasked shopper who’d like to stay in one area. But it’s not going to sway me to buy any particular product at a specific point in time. Undoubtedly, this feature is the tip of the iceberg and Google has much bigger plans to evolve, build on it and integrate some of their other emerging technologies that will prove to be irresistible to even the most skeptical of consumers (like me)  .

Until such time, my appetite for display marketing remains very small, and if privacy issues continue to taint the ultimate personal experience online, perhaps the only one demanding ‘more cookies’ may well be… you guessed it, the Google-y eyed  cookie-craving Cookie Monster.



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