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Study Says Targeted Ads Gettin' a Lil' Creepy 241

eldavojohn writes "Ever load up a completely random webpage to see an advertisement at the top for products related to what you're reading about? What about the advertisement with binoculars that says your green denim jacket doesn't really go with your eyes? Well, a recent marketing study (PDF) is saying that making a highly visible advertisement content aware is too much for consumers. It seems that to optimize clicks and purchases you should use a highly visible ad or a more diminutive ad that is content-aware, but not both. For marketers, this report talks about the consumer having this crazy notion of privacy and at some point they start to feel like you're crossing the line."
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Study Says Targeted Ads Gettin' a Lil' Creepy

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  • by dragisha ( 788 ) <(dragisha) (at) (> on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:16AM (#32563916)

    Ever tried to search for something linux related, and found tens of mailing list aggregation sites, each one differing from others slightly, but mostly in URL and placement and quantity of AdSense ads?

    Is there some way to blacklist such sites and share blacklist info through some firefox extension?

  • by Klinky ( 636952 ) on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:29AM (#32564064)

    I am finding it kind of annoying/spooky that the same ad seems to follow me around to different websites via DoubleClick. Yes I was looking up information on stock photography, now stop showing me the exact same ad twenty billion times on 50 different websites. I am not going to click it.

  • by VShael ( 62735 ) on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:42AM (#32564240) Journal

    and a blacklisted hosts file, or whatever, just a word of warning.

    Be prepared the next time you browse the web on a strangers machine, or a public machine.
    It happened to me recently, and it scared the crap out of me. Adverts EVERYWHERE and some of them were shouting at me.

    I would liken it to a BBC viewer having to sit through American cable television for an hour.

    It's not pleasant.

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:42AM (#32564244) Journal

    That kind of thing happens a lot, actually, if you actually look at the ads. Mind you, keyword matching has never yet given me a single ad I was interested in, but I still occasionally look at the ads because of gems like these:

    - I'm looking up the lyrics of a goth kinda song, you know, about death and suicide, and it mentions eternal sleep. An ad on the side dutifully offers to sell me sleeping pills. (Not only morbid, but I really don't think that they want to become known as the company desperate enough for a sale that they'll even offer to sell a means to commit suicide to depressed teens.)

    - I'm looking up the meaning of the word "insipid." Of course, a lot of the words in the definition have to do with taste and cuisine. An ad on the side (or was it two?) point me at some traditional Jewish cuisine cookbook. (I figure having that as an illustration for "insipid" in the dictionary isn't exactly an inspiration to buy it, you know?)

    - I'm looking up the meaning of the word "sycophant". An ad on the side points at some book for children about how one can become president. (I guess it would explain Dubya;)

  • by Captain Hook ( 923766 ) on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:54AM (#32564412)

    Nobody is really offering a means to suicide are they. The problem with keyword matching on a webpage to a particular ad is that it's not context sensitive. That page had used the word sleep or even more likely 'eternal sleep' as a phrase and the highest paying match was for sleeping pills.

    And thats not even what the article is about. What you described is simple keyword matching of the webpage you are viewing. What the article is descibing is an ad system which has nothing to with the webpage you are visiting and everything to do with you and your previous web browsing habits. For example, you browse information on unwanted pregenacy on one page, then a few days later on a car selling site you get an ad for aborbtion clinics.

  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Monday June 14, 2010 @10:22AM (#32564738) Homepage Journal

    I actually like ads to be catered to my tastes, it seems like a more useful use of screen real estate.

    Years ago, I worked doing p-shop for advertising, and my boss taught me something important about marketing: The people paying for the ads want those ads to go to peope who aren't already interested. They want to reach people who have no interest in the product, and to alter their minds.

    It's a waste of money to pitch to someone who's already sold. In other words, advertisers want to advertise to you the opposite of what you want.

  • Re:Well, no shit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Monday June 14, 2010 @10:31AM (#32564856)

    You buy some sexy lingerie for your current girlfriend online. In 6 months you break up. You find yourself another lady but she refuses to wear such things however for the next 20 years you get ads catalogs and emails all for you to buy lingerie.

    Targeted ads have unlimited shelf life. You have a phase were you like one particular "brand,item,design" and you get advertising for that. Even if you are no longer interested in it anymore. There is no way to tell them to stop.

    Sidenote Amazon bases it's advertising to you based on buying history. Currently my amazon history is 12 years long, you don't have to keep tax data that long, why should amazon keep that data that long?

  • Re:Really?? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RobDude ( 1123541 ) on Monday June 14, 2010 @10:50AM (#32565086) Homepage

    I actually *would* love them. If they didn't suck.

    I'm willing to acknowledge the fact that virtually everything I get 'for free' from the internet is, ultimately, either created by people for free, or by people getting paid through advertising revenue.

    I don't go out of my way to block ads because ads support the websites I love. Even running a personal site has costs associated with it. If someone can recoup some of that with a banner-ad; more power to them.

    And if the banner-ad could be stuff I actually, even better. Now I'm shopping for things I need, while supporting the websites I like, win-win.

    But, in practice, those ads always suck. Here is how it goes.

    1.) Decide I need a new X
    2.) Find a new X on the internet
    3.) Order X
    4.) Spend the next month or so seeing ads about X, something I'm not interested in, because I just purchased one.

    It's annoying. Far more annoying than random ads. I just purchased a new bed, I don't need a new bed anymore. Not for *years*. If the ads were smart enough to wait 5-6 years and remind me of the age of my bed, that would be awesome. But showing me ads, particularly, ones for THE SAME product I purchased, it's just stupid.

  • Re:Ugh. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by coolsnowmen ( 695297 ) on Monday June 14, 2010 @11:41AM (#32565820)

    And if you think that a site that gains popularity only cost pennies to run or is easily covered by donations, you clearly have never run, or known anyone who has run, a major site.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Monday June 14, 2010 @01:01PM (#32566958) Homepage

    Yeah, I think this is very important. I worked in advertising briefly, and it creeped me out. The way advertisers see their jobs is not how most people understand advertisers' jobs.

    So here's a funny thing that many of you don't realize: you probably want to see some ads. I only really realized this until I cancelled my cable (Netflix only) and had been using Adblock for months. I realized that I had no idea what was going on. New products were being released, new movies were in theaters, and I didn't know these things existed. I wanted to know that they existed. I wanted to buy some of those products and see some of those movies.

    So I really started thinking about advertising, and specifically targeted advertising. I thought about how I kind of wish there was a site that I could go to what would tell me about all the things that I was missing by not seeing ads.

    So I wanted to learn about all of these things, but I wanted to learn about these things on my own terms, I wanted to look at the ads that I wanted to see, and not other ads. I wanted to look at them on my own schedule. I wanted to skip any ad that I didn't like. And that seemed totally reasonable to me, because in my mind an advertiser should be looking to connect me with information about products that I might want to buy.

    And then I remembered: That's not how advertisers see their jobs. Advertisers specifically do not want you to learn about anything on your own terms. They want to control the whole setup so that they can push you into buying products that you don't really want. Advertisers are not happy allowing you to watch the ads you want to watch, they are only happy when they force you to watch an ad that you don't want to watch.

    And what really drove this home for me was trying to watch movie trailers on YouTube, and YouTube was making me watch an ad before each movie trailer. It took me a second to remember that movie trailers are themselves advertisements. YouTube was forcing me to watch and ad that I didn't want before they'd let me watch the ad I wanted to watch.

    What it comes down to is this: It'd be great if we could match entertaining and informative advertisements up with people who would like to see those ads. There are advertisers who will try to do this. However, advertisers are generally employed by people who want to sell crap to people who don't really want that crap. As long as that's the case, advertisers will try to push you ads that you don't want to see.

Life in the state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan