Thursday, May 8, 2003

Targeted Advertising

You’ve probably heard about “targeted advertising,” where advertising pertinent to specific person viewing it is inserted into a magazine or a television show.  You can see it in its basest form when an ad for a local business airs on a nationally syndicated television show.  You can also see regional newspapers which will have a section aimed at a specific county or city.  They could even use their databases to say “In this zip code, the average income is this high, so put in ads for that luxury car, but in the next zip code, incomes are lower, so include ads for an economy car.”  Or for an extreme, they could (in theory) include ads targeted for the specific profile of each subscriber to a magazine.

Today, while driving to work, I had a bit of targeted advertising shock.  While listening to the local NPR station, there was an ad (oops, a “sponsorship message”) for Wallingford Center, a small shopping complex in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.  I was stopped at a red light at the moment, and looked over to the left… and there was Wallingford Center.

Spooky feeling.

Updated on January 28, 2004
In January, 2004, I had a repeat of this, with a Taco Bell commercial coming on while I was sitting at a light in Rainier Valley, right next to a Taco Bell.
Updated on July 22, 2010
I first encountered this idea when I was working for SoftBook Press — an eBook company which preceded the Kindle and company by a decade — in 1998–2000.  One of our projects was to-your-device delivery of e-versions of newspapers and magazines; you would leave the device plugged in to your Ethernet connection, with a device timer set to wake it up at like 4:00 am and do the download, so the newspaper would be there for you to read at breakfast.  As part of this, we discussed but never implemented, the ability to target advertising based on user profile geography or demographics.

I also briefly worked for Classmates in 2000, and they had some implementation of this, working with advertising partners to be able to supply more targeted advertising attached to their e-mail communications to subscribers.

Google, of course, puts content-related ads in their stuff, so you may well see a Kindle ad attached to this very post.

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