The Manchurian Consumer

A new book, Digital Destiny, accuses the ad industry of “brandwashing” America and warns of advertisers working behind the scenes to gut consumer’s online privacy. Ad Age writes:

    “While advertisers and their websites say they don’t collect “personally identifiable information” without consent, their merging of online and offline information has come pretty close, Mr. Chester maintains, warning especially of personally tailored TV commercials.

    “No matter what they claim, the cable and satellite industries are striving to perfect their ability to target individuals,” he writes.”

Wait a second, isn’t one of the worst things about advertising that it’s too impersonal and geared towards the lowest common denominator? We’re not sure we wouldn’t mind a personalized commercial. Unless they superimposed our Mom’s head on the spokesmodel or something. Now that would be freaky. And move a lot of product. — BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. Totally agree, and the cost savings in general would be significant. As it is now, millions of dollars are wasted because a) TV advertisers advertise to people who aren’t in their market but b) if those ads are especially persuasive, consumers end up buying things they never wanted and don’t particularly need.

    In fact most of TV advertising is about just that: creating artificial need. If ads were properly targeted, advertising could get down to basics–either rational comparisons of a product’s advantages, or pure old-fashioned Bud Light entertainment.

  2. Mr. Gunn says:

    But when if you’re watching the game one day with your buds and you start getting ads for tampons?

    Seriously – if advertisers can get it, so can insurers. Do you want your rates to go up because you bought rugby cleats?

  3. kerry says:

    My only concern is that the ads wouldn’t get any less annoying, just more specific to what they think my needs are. On the one hand, I agree with Meghann and Ted in that it would be great to stop seeing ads for things I don’t want or need, but how do they know what I do need? Would my commercials be as boring as my life? Or would I be perpetually bombarded with ads for things market research says I should want but I don’t?
    I think I’ll just keep skipping all of them, it’s much easier that way.

  4. Keter says:

    I’ll settle for just about any arrangement that allows me to opt out of ever seeing another “Smiling Bob” (male enhancement) ad.

    Privacy? Tooth Fairy? Flat Earth? ;o)

  5. airshowfan says:

    It’s amazing how easy it is to learn TONS about people by cross-referencing what they say online, even when they think they’re being anonymous. The following talk is probably worth your time:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=647416987535227338

    Still, I like targeted ads better than non-targeted ads. If there were a form I could fill out somewhere that would prevent me from getting home-financing spam, medication spam, catalogues, real-estate flyers, credit card offers, Nigerian scam email, and other things I will NOT use, and if that theoretical form required me to enter things I WOULD be interested in (food for delivery, photography equipment, computer hardware & software, courses, ballroom dance events, aviation-related things), then I would be delighted to replace pointless advertising with personal advertising. Amazon usually recommends some pretty dang good stuff when I go there, for example. Amazon doesn’t care about me more than other businesses do, but their advertising is so well taylored to me, it just ends up being much more effective and much less annoying.

    That reminds me of this:

    http://it.slashdot.org/it/06/10/24/1654234.shtml

    Hopefully, if I were targeted for an ad because I am in a position to decide what products and services my company buys, I would probably 1) feel nice and important, and 2) be very careful to make purchases that are actually best for my company, making these decisions based on research and not on advertising or on conversations at the golf course.

  6. That and the FreeCreditReport.com ad, Keter. I LOATHE that commercial.

  7. GenXCub says:

    Especially since it’s not free, Pee Wee.