Advertising gets personal

Posted: February 20, 2012

"Your privacy is gone, and it's never coming back.

"A report that Target accidentally disclosed a teen girl's preganancy to her father shows the logical extreme to which retailers can take the search for more information about their customers.

"This is what happens when you hand the cashier at your local drug store or grocery store any of a zillion plastic reward cards. Sure you get discounts, coupons or cash back. But you also hand over information that allows the retailer to create a complete personality profile based on your shopping habits.

"That is what apparently happened to an unidentified high school girl who Target identified as pregnant from her pattern of purchases. According to a story in the New York Times Magazine, the girl's father complained about a mailer sent to her featuring ads for maternity clothing and other items that might be needed by a mother-to be. The father complained to Target about the "error" but soon discovered that Target knew his teenage daughter was pregnant before he did!"


Advertising used to be informative, entertaining and even decorative. Now it's rapidly becoming invasive.Not in the old sense that there's too much of it (although there is) but invasive on a personal level.

This is the flaw in things like Facebook. The only way Facebook can make money is by targeting ads at its users in much the same way Target did in this story. The weapon of choice in marketing right now is personal data. Your personal data. 

There will be a widespread realization of what is happening, then there will be a widespread desire to change it. And the many 'houses of cards' – including Facebook – that have been built solely on this invasive advertising premise will fail. Facebook users think of it as a service, Mark Zuckerberg has always known it was simply a method of gathering personal data he could then sell. When a company and its customers have diametrically opposed views of what that company is and what it stands for, disaster is all but guaranteed. 

Just my opinion.