Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Shouldn't Predictive Advertising Be Better By Now?

It happened again.

I was clicking around the inter-webs, checking prices on daily newspapers. I zeroed in on the Wall Street Journal. Later, I checked my Facebook feed. There it was...and still is.

"You know what would look great with this copy of WSJ? Another copy of WSJ." --Facebook

Through some sort of web browser/source code magicianry, Facebook saw my browsing history and plopped a Wall Street Journal ad in the number two spot on my feed. It's been there for about a month now. Here's the thing, if Facebook or Chrome or whoever does these things is smart enough to see I'm interested in the Wall Street Journal, how did they miss the fact that I actually subscribed?!! And, subsequently, why do they think I'd be interested in two subscriptions?

Here's an even more egregious example of this sort of consumer profiling. I've long been an Amazon Prime member. Love the online retailer. Last month, I ordered a car seat for $150. Like clockwork, Amazon had it on my doorstep in two days.

Why, I ask, can such an ingenious company fail to understand that a $150 car seat is not something people need five of? Yet, it never fails. You buy something on Amazon, and, surprise, here are five more suggestions of the exact type of product you just bought. What?!! I don't need another $100 messenger bag. I chose the one I wanted and ordered it. So, stop suggesting I buy the ones I passed up in the process.

To their credit, Amazon's system is much better with book suggestions. And, they have learned that I own an Xbox One, not a Playstation 4. But still, why is predictive advertising so bad?

The Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp -- one of the largest publishing giants in the world. So, why is Facebook tossing the same News Corp product in my face day after day? Why not suggest Barron's or a recent book from Harper Collins? Or, here's an idea, why not suggest the New York Times or the Washington Post? (FYI: the Washington Post is owned by Amazon's CEO -- Jeff Bezos.) Different companies, sure, but still, I'm more likely to subscribe to one of those instead of double subscribing to WSJ.

Perhaps one of my more tech-inclined blogging cohorts can explain the mysticism that generates these sub-par advertisements. I just know that Don Draper wouldn't approve of this crap.