Netflix thought I was gay. Then Yahoo made the same mistake. And now it’s Entertainment Weekly’s turn to advertise the gay lifestyle to me.
In the digital age, weren’t advertisements supposed to be accurately tailored to each consumer?
No offense to homosexuals, but I don’t swing that way.
Clearly the inability to tailor advertisements to the audiences most likely to be receptive to them is one of the failed promises of digital content.
Not too long ago, advertising pundits talked about how ads would shift from the shotgun approach of mass media buys to targeted online advertising. In that world, dog owners would get pitched doggy products and cat owners would get pitched kitty products. And men wouldn’t have to look at feminine hygiene ads and women wouldn’t be exposed to sexist beer commercials, etc.
But that hasn’t happened because of privacy concerns. People don’t want companies to know too much about them. So the same advertising approach that fills your e-mail with spam affects online display ads and other advertisements.
But the time may come soon when people will have to opt in to get targeted advertising in order to finance all the free services they’re getting on the Internet – from news sites to social networking services.
I personally don’t have a problem with that. Those free services are ad-supported after all. And I’d rather see ads for things I might want than things I definitely wouldn’t want.
Photo: Screenshot of ad for gay dating service seen on my Yahoo Mail page.