Thursday, November 20, 2008

My New Deodorant

It has been said all too much how the internet has altered not only our lifestyles, but the way businesses are run and advertised. I have wondered how it is, that whenever I sign in to Facebook these days, I get to see some very relevant advertisements. Recently, I've been spotting an ad for a body deodorant for women. No, the companies didn't discover a stench in me! The internet is still a far cry from using (and abusing) our sense of smell. My point is: it is never an ad for a brand not available in my country, and it is never a product for men. It is always for me.

There were times - back in the seventeenth century maybe - when advertising was limited to the Classified sections in newspapers. Gradually, imaging and colour crept in to add to the intrigue factor. This impacted not only potential consumers, but resulted in the development and consequently, the boom of a new industry. We were introduced to agencies that offered specialized services in creativity and marketing.

In came World War I, and the populations were introduced to advertisements of things beyond products and services. They were introduced to monitored propaganda through advertisements. There was not just the newspaper anymore; there was the theatre and the radio. And today, when television has become a necessity for every household (no point dissuading lower-income groups), whether we like it or not, whether we are bothered or not, we are bombarded by advertisements of cereals and cell phones, internet and washing powders, schools and milk products, whitening creams and pest-killing sprays. With marketing research as our solemnized alter ego, information assymetry is no longer. We do not have the luxury that was - to view or not to view the Classifieds. There are millions of web-based ventures and projects today that survive or thrive on advertising revenues alone. Such business models beckon networking sites like Facebook.

So coming back to Facebook, advertisements there are not the run-of-the-mill pop-up adds. If you are the company, organization or a person who wants people to know about something you're selling, or maybe just a blog such as this, you can very conveniently decide a target audience. There will be no casualties on the way. Only the people you'll be looking for, will be enticed to pay any attention to you whatsoever. The rest of the world will enjoy a well-earned slumber. You will tell Facebook that you want to advertise your deodorant to women, regardless of their relationship status, aged between 14 and 55, living in Pakistan. You will be told how many profiles your ad will appear on. And walaa!

This is not where user-generated ads end. Another social networking site, MySpace, is also engaging in Behavioural Targetting. If you are a music fanatic, you're likely to see an ad from Virgin on your profile; if you are a bookworm, a new best-seller is likely to reinforce its status by coming to you rather than the other way round; and so on...

And before the bell rings, I need you to know, I don't stink, but I'm using that deodorant now! And it helps my husband to know that even if I login to Facebook 30 times a day, I will never be able to click on a shaadi.com banner, not even for the kicks of it! Unless I put up a fake status, that is.

Hmm...

Hmm...

Hmm...

After all the bickering, we've found a glitch in the system: too many fake profiles! Does it render this kind of targetted advertising ineffective?

Copyright(c) 2008 Saadia Malik

3 comments:

Saadia said...

2 relevant links:

- Don't Take Relationship Advice from Facebook
- Internet Marketers Listen to Learn, and Vice Versa

Afaque said...

Yeah...
n u know what? whenever I use internet from ages old cell phone, they always tell me to buy this n that which can add functionality to my ancient cell... they even tell me the model of my mobile set... its so annoying...

Saadia said...

Targeted Ads for Personal Data: Worth the Tradeoff?