Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Targeted Ads: Of course I care!

If you live on this planet, you may have noticed the recent uproars about companies mining data about you to figure out what you need to buy. Target’s ability to figure out that a girl was pregnant before her father did is way up there as a symbol of targeted ad overkill.

Frankly, I do not mind that companies distill everything they can discover about me in order to throw well-targeted ads at me.

I have been the victim of untargeted ads for over sixty years. Newspaper ads, junk mail, TV, radio, Internet, skywriting, you name it. Even though I have a wonderful Tivo box at home, those mis-aimed ads are still an extraordinary waste of my time. I wish that every ad I had ever been exposed to was about some product I might really want to buy.

I wrote system software for a company that places targeted ads, for more than a year, but that experience had no effect on my opinion: I have always wanted targeted ads! Well-targeted ads. Expertly sculptured ads. And I am willing to let Google save my search information and whatever it can profile about me, to improve the value of the ads I see online. Or offline, for that matter.

Tens of thousands of irrelevant, untargeted ads have occupied months of my life. What a waste.
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