Over-Served: The Total Stupidity of Online Advertising

By Mad Dog
Published: Dec 30, 2011

If you look for a product on the Web — like, for instance, Clark’s Desert Boots — the next 3 trillion times you go to a frequently visited site — like, for instance, Talking Points Memo — an ad for Clark’s Desert Boots will be "served" to you. Marginally dumb, but at least Clark’s is making an investment in a possible sale. But what if you go on, as I did, to buy the Desert Boots? The ads keep on coming! Wasted money for Clark’s. Annoying to the consumer. And so very 1996 — I have to believe Amazon, which pioneered collaborative filtering (and where I bought the shoes), could serve up an ad for some other product, as in "If you bought this, you might also like…" Instead, I’ll be seeing Clark’s ads for…well, certainly long enough to wish I’d bought these shoes on 86th Street, even though they cost $20 more in the real world. Can I be the only one who’s got this gripe?