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Polite, Contextual Targeting

June 19, 2014

by Matthew McGarry

World Cup 2014. USA vs. Ghana. “No, Jozy, no! No, Clint, no!” we all bellowed in unison as our beloved US forwards grimaced in pain, grasping hamstrings and trying to stop a deluge of blood from pouring out of a probably broken nose. My inner dialogue unfolds—“Ah, what are we gonna do?! We’re f… Hey wait, is that the Band Aid logo politely coming into view on the ad boards? Man, Band Aid brand bandages sure do a great job at tending injuries, especially the ones with blood. I think I need to make a stop on the way home and pick up a box in case I get a stray cleat to the face…

Was this injury/ad-cue a graceful coincidence after both US injuries, or graceful targeting? After all, the same ad placement did run a few more times throughout the match, sans additional injuries. Whatever it was, it had me, and I didn’t feel as violated as I do when Big Brother aggressively invades my browsing space with an item I was privately viewing 20 minutes prior. Perhaps it was the urgency of the situation—these athletes desperately needed medical attention, and when I saw Band Aid, I was comforted. Let’s face it, browsing sandals on the web is not urgent, so when I am force-fed sandals, I get miffed. But what if targeted web marketing had the same elegance as the compassionate Band Aid experience I had during the match? We all know popups could never accomplish this, and the more advertisers know about us and our current situations, the more skeptical and paranoid we become (thanks, NSA!). So what’s the line between caring or creepy? Will we ever feel a genuine empathy from our digital ad experiences in which we’re happy that brands know what we want at that moment? Let’s put on a fresh Band-Aid and ponder.