Facebook Ads Nearly Ruined My Christmas Gifts

How many holiday gift ideas have been spoiled beforehand because of retargeted ads? You’d have to poll a slew of consumers to get an accurate read, but it nearly happened to me last night, so I’m willing to bet it’s happened to a fair number of people. This is logical advice -- and probably something I should start doing. However, if ads chasing us around the Web are threatening the surprise of the gift and force us to browse incognito, then the advertiser misses out on collecting data about valuable consumers during the holiday season. The ads go from being “well targeted” to detrimental. It makes smart advertising look dumb.



Many gifts are exchanged from within the same home, so what of shared computers or tablets? Perhaps fingerprint login technology could help marketers distinguish between two users of the same device.

In reality, this “problem” is probably small enough that it’s not really a problem at all. Sites like Facebook require personal login information, after all (though retargeted ads do appear throughout the Web). The more interesting side of this conundrum is that it reveals technology as, well, not human.

Marketers have beaten the “contextual relevancy” drum for some time, but an inability for ads to be discreet shows that “contextual” does not yet extend beyond an ad system’s ability to understand the content of the page the ad is served on. The ads do not yet fully understand the context of why the consumer was shopping in the first place.

And maybe that’s just an inherent flaw with personalized ads on the Web; maybe there is no real solution, other than the consumer going incognito.

Then again, for “personalized” ads, shouldn’t consumers expect something that understands them a little better?

"Sad santa" image via Shutterstock.

2 comments about "Facebook Ads Nearly Ruined My Christmas Gifts".
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  1. Paolo Gaudiano from Infomous, Inc., December 18, 2014 at 3:28 p.m.

    I just had exactly the same problem. It shows a limitation of retargeting: sometimes even if I have just bought an item, I will continue to get retargeted. Also, in one case the ads were from Criteo. I clicked on the corner, went through the "stop showing me these ads" process, and in spite of that I had a very unfortunate resurfacing of these ads at an inopportune time.

    I see it as yet another sign of laziness on the part of advertisers and AdTech companies. This is a hand grenade approach that hits a lot more than it needs to, but people can't be bothered to try to understand consumer behavior a bit better. For instance, if I just bought an item, why the hell are you going to continue retargeting me???

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, December 18, 2014 at 8:41 p.m.

    That's what you get dealing with fbeast. Spying is spying for whatever reasons.

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