My dad was visiting Charlotte a few months ago, and, as most visits with Dads go, after we've talked about what my sister was doing, how my grandma was feeling, and how my car was running - we began talking about work. Thankfully, for me, I love talking about marketing. And with as fast as the environment is changing, there is always something new to discuss.
I began talking about online advertisements and the very cool (though, to be honest, somewhat creepy) way that our online profiles are created for advertisers. Every website that we visit, every link we click on, every item we browse - even if we don't take an action and purchase something - tells advertisers something about us: our age, our gender, and what is important to us.
For a while, I was searching for a new kitchen table for my condo. I was browsing tons of sites, checking prices, reading reviews, measuring dimensions. And before I knew it, those exact same kitchen tables began following me on non-furniture related websites. I could be checking the news and an ad would pop up on the side of a beautiful kitchen table I had been looking at a few hours ago.
To that, my dad replied, "That's why I don't buy things online." (This didn't surprise me.) "I don't have an online profile for advertisers to track," he said.
Hm. "What about Giants' scores?" I asked.
"Well, yes, I do check Giants' scores online," he said.
"And I bet you see Giants' ads to buy merchandise when you're online," I replied.
He paused. "Yes, actually I do."
I might have shattered my dad's perception of his online self, and I didn't take any pleasure in that. But it was a sobering moment for any of us to take stock that if we open up our laptops, or unlock our phones and click anything, anywhere - we have an online profile. Some may be more specific than others - for instance, advertisers certainly know way more about me than they know about my dad, but advertisers will continue to meet us where we are in the spaces that we visit.
We can consider this to be creepy and a violation (I know my dad feels that way, and, honestly, sometimes I do too), but the marketing environment is adapting to where consumers are: online. So what else should we expect? I don't know about you, but I'd rather see an ad for a kitchen table that I actually need, versus a new Lexus, which I'm not in the market to buy. So, honestly? It's a win-win.