Ad-targeting seriously needs to get personal

I am a huge fan of Amazon. As an online retailer they totally rock! They generally have close to the most competitive prices, and any slight premium is always offset by the amazing customer service. In the last few years I’ve had many wonderful examples for where they have put me, the customer, first and I pretty much do most my online shopping with Amazon. However, it’s Amazon’s attrociously dumb advertising strategy that is provoking me to write this post.

I read an interesting article last week (It’s Become Tragically Clear That Facebook Chased The Wrong Business For Years) which talked about Facebook reverting back to the age-old way of selling ads; re-targeting. It suggests that re-targeting may be a much better approach to advertising than all this social hype. While I agree click analytics is hugely important for ad targeting, I believe a complete strategy requires social and behavioral analysis. The more you can understand about someone; from the very explicit (salary, gender, age, marital status, interests) to the more implicit (mood, preferences, relationships), the better able you are to anticipate what, when, and how to engage.

So you are probably wondering what the heck Amazon has to do with this entire post… Well, a few weeks ago I was looking at watches and very nearly bought one, the only reason I didn’t was because Amazon wouldn’t ship it to Ireland (where I live). Since then Amazon have been literally SPAMMING ME with loads of e-mails about watches from companies that… and wait for it… DON’T SHIP TO IRELAND. What the heck :-( I’ve been forced to turn off any advertising e-mails from Amazon, so they have now completely closed down any future advertising channel to me.

Basic behavioral analysis would have solved this problem. Firstly, there are only so many e-mails that anyone wants to receive and if the first 4 didn’t provoke a reaction then maybe they should just get the message. Secondly, they know I’m from Ireland so stop giving me ads that I can’t use. That’s the most ridiculous part. They show me something I want and then just as I am about to click the “buy button” they tell me that I can’t have it. How screwed up is that!

So until advertisers apply a combination of social and behavioral analysis alongside click analysis, they won’t have a successful strategy.


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