Category: advertising

A collection of absurdly-targeted web ads

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This is a follow-up to my post “Marketers know everything about us! [SARCASM]“. The absurdly-targeted web ads just keep on coming, so I decided to start a collection and post some of them here. Most won’t need an explanation; I will provide one where I think it might be needed.

My small-but-growing collection includes: an Amazon ad for shoes I just bought from Amazon; a CafePress ad for t-shirts I am selling on CafePress; an ad for degrees for CIA officers; banner ads in languages I don’t understand, like Korean and Chinese.

LinkedIn astrologer professional connection suggestion
LinkedIn astrologer professional connection suggestion

COMMENTARY: LinkedIn thinks I may know and may want to connect professionally to a professional astrologer based in India.

Amazon Adidas shoe ad for shoes I just bought from Amazon
Amazon Adidas shoe ad for shoes I just bought from Amazon
Honda banner ads in Korean and Chinese
Honda banner ads in Korean and Chinese

COMMENTARY: I speak neither language

GeoHipster t-shirts from CafePress web ad
GeoHipster t-shirts from CafePress web ad

COMMENTARY: This is my product. I am selling these GeoHipster t-shirts. So the marketing “system” (not CafePress) is trying to get me to buy the product that I sell.

USAA understands MILITARY LIFE web ad
USAA understands MILITARY LIFE web ad

COMMENTARY: I was never in the US military, nor was anyone in my family.

DEGREES FOR CIA OFFICERS web ad
DEGREES FOR CIA OFFICERS web ad

COMMENTARY: I am not a CIA officer, obviously. If I were an undercover CIA officer, this ad would be even more inappropriate.

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Comcast to customer: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”

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Why is Comcast like Hotel California? Because “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.

Listen below to this pathetic, desperate Comcast service representative refusing to cancel a customer’s account. Which is why you should never, NEVER EVER become a Comcast customer in the first place.

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There’s a bit of karmic irony in this story. Eight years ago (to the day!) a similar phone call made the rounds, in which an AOL customer tried in vain to cancel his AOL account. In today’s call the customer is no other than AOL Vice President of Product Ryan Block.

 

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Pepsi Throwback Made with Real Sugar

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I don’t always pick Pepsi over Coca-Cola, but when I do I pick “Pepsi Throwback Made with Real Sugar”.

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It’s a shame that my favorite drink is apparently married to the makers of HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), and the only real Coca-Cola is imported into the US from Mexico.

Pepsi Throwback Made with Real Sugar
Pepsi Throwback Made with Real Sugar
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Google+ shows content view counts on profile pages

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In a move brilliant in its simplicity, yesterday Google+ began showing total content view counts on profile pages. This is significant for several reasons, but I’ll focus on the main one.

Some background: Back in December 2013 Facebook — Google+’s main competitor in the social media arena — changed their news feed algorithm. With that, Facebook in effect usurped editorial powers over users’ posts, which resulted in hiding (most of) users’ content from (most of) their friends. Now if you want more friends to see your posts, you have to pay Facebook to “promote” your posts. Many users cried foul. Some have called the practice “bait-and-switch” and “Facebook fraud”. The New York Times wondered whether Facebook had become too big to care.

Showing total content view counts on Google+ profile pages is designed to set Google+ apart from Facebook and attract more users and brands. Google basically says: “Hey, we not only let your message through to all who want to see it, we tell you how many users actually saw it.” Google+ is smartly riding the wave of discontent over Facebook’s authoritarian stance.

This works for me. After fuming for months over various objectionable Facebook policies and practices, today I am beginning to gradually phase out my Facebook presence in favor of Google+. Find me there.

Atanas Entchev Google+ profile
Atanas Entchev Google+ profile
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Maybe You Touched Your Genitals Liquid Soap

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Do you touch your genitals? Or shake hands with people who do? If you answered yes to either of those questions, this product is for you. Now available from Amazon Prime. Order here.

Maybe You Touched Your Genitals Liquid Soap
Maybe You Touched Your Genitals Liquid Soap
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Jurnalizm, the ABC way

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How is this not like “Shouting fire in a crowded theater”?

In case you haven’t heard it yet, here’s the story: A “funnyman” tricks a US Olympic athlete into tweeting a fake video purporting to show a wolf on the loose in the athlete’s hotel in Sochi. The funnyman’s network (ABC) knows about the plan, but keeps mum. The story goes viral, as other legit news networks (NBC, CNN) report it as true. The funnyman goes “Sike!” ABC goes:”It is a piece of comedy.” Ha-ha!

Not everyone’s laughing.  Said Lou Ferrara, Associated Press vice president and managing editor overseeing Olympics coverage:

“It wasn’t just that it was a potentially viral video. The news was that security may have been breached where the athletes stay. How did a wolf get into a place that was supposedly fortified? Was there a hole in the fence? Were there other weaknesses? How did it get past the guards? Was it even a wolf? These were all legitimate questions in the context of what has been reported about Sochi.”

In my opinion this “prank” goes well beyond stupid and irresponsible, into malicious and probably criminal. Confession: I am a little angrier than usual because I thought the story was true and shared it on social media as such. I am also no fan of ABC’s for other reasons.

Here’s the video:

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The Super Bowl: Kabuki theatre for 21st-Century America

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Oblivious A.T.’s potpourri of impressions from Super Bowl XLVIII

I only watch one football game per year. Apparently it’s illegal to call it Super Bowl any more, but I don’t care. Super Bowl Super Bowl Super Bowl Super Bowl. SuperBowl. #superbowl. (hi, AK47!)

So, without further adieu (joke!), here are some impressions:

  • The TV image is crisper than I ever remember seeing it (on the same set).
  • Why are the Broncos orange? Orange is reserved for Florida, or — in extreme circumstances — Georgia. The Broncos are white (remember OJ?). I kept getting confused throughout the game.
  • Ronan Farrow is live-tweeting the show, as he did the Grammys two weeks ago. One of many parallels between the two spectacles. Other: Bulgarian-Canadian Nina Dobrev is there, as are Sir Paul McCartney and wife Nancy Shevell, Michael Douglas, etc.
  • I don’t understand the game.
  • GoDaddy commercial: Superimposing Danica Patrick’s face on a bodybuilder’s torso is grotesque. I get it: This year the males are the meat, the female is a business owner. Nice try, still disgusting.
  • Bruno Mars and the Chili Peppers slay the half-time show.
  • Bob Dylan appears in an artsy vintagey commercial for an Italian car manufacturer. The times, they are-a-changing. Fo sho.
  • A Belgian brewing conglomerate panders to the US military. Anything for a buck.
  • Maserati reminds me that I need one of their cars.
  • Nancy Shevell, Paul McCartney’s wife — always classy — looks younger and prettier every time I see her.
  • By comparison, Michael Douglas looks like he has aged ten years in two weeks. How did he get so old in the two weeks since the Grammys?
  • The Broncos won. Or maybe it was Seattle. The white team won. Good for them. I feel genuinely happy for the coach, who looks like a genuinely nice guy.
  • OK, new Sherlock at 9:58. Switching to 13.

I borrowed the title for this post from my friend Brian Timoney.

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Marketers know everything about us! [SARCASM]

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[UPDATE June 23, 2014] In the interest of science I clicked on the Korean ad (or maybe it was the Chinese) and requested the page in Spanish (which I also don’t speak). I was curious to see whether I would start getting banner ads in Spanish. Lo and behold, three days later I get served the Honda ad in Spanish!

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[UPDATE June 20, 2014] I now get banner ads in Korean and Chinese. Lest you wonder: No, I do not speak either language, and no, I have not somehow provoked this by visiting Korean or Chinese websites. Explanation is simple: Online advertising is broken, your privacy is not in danger, marketers know NEXT TO NOTHING about us.

Honda banner ads Korean Chinese
Honda banner ads Korean Chinese

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[UPDATE May 13, 2014] I’ve been getting very persistent email pitches for a Jet Card. Their latest offer is for the bargain price of $179,125. How misguided. Don’t they know I’m in the market for a Maserati?

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[UPDATE March 14, 2014] Apparently it wasn’t obvious that this post was meant to be sarcastic. So let me spell it out: What I meant was: “Marketers don’t know anything about us. ANYTHING!” Amazon — the smartest of them all — only serves me ads for either stuff that I just bought from them, or stuff I looked at by mistake with no intention of buying. The rest of them are worse. Chinese Walmart? Puh-leeze!

Don’t freak out, people!

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I just got served this banner ad on a website I visit several times a day. Clearly, my privacy is in danger.

Walmart Chinese website banner ad
Walmart Chinese website banner ad
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