We’ve all got that one friend who is forever putting their foot in it. Perhaps it’s via a misjudged joke, poorly-timed comment, or blatant lack of awareness to something you’re sensitive about. In many ways, their blissful ignorance to these indiscreet remarks can form a large part of your fondness for them. Like a puppy who keeps tripping over its own ears, or a grandparent who has lost their ‘appropriate filter’ with age, and has begun giving total strangers life advice in Tesco.
Endearing? Sure. But sometimes you have moments of blinking disbelief at how this person has remained such a big part of your life for so long, directly followed by the numbing realisation that you probably couldn’t ditch them, even if you tried. You just have to grin and bear it, accept that their flaws are a part who they are, and that they have plenty of good qualities to balance the bad, like how they always remember your birthday! My relationship with this friend (naming no names, of course) is remarkably similar to my relationship with so-called ‘targeted’ online ads.
Case in point, ever since my ‘smart’ device seems to have figured out that I am a woman in my mid-twenties (27 still counts as mid, right?), I cannot get to a single funny cat video without first hearing the chirpy chorus of gaggling babies. They are kindly reminding me that I can test my ovulation calendar from the comfort of my own home. As a heads up on how accurately I’ve been targeted for this product …I’m so far from requiring these services that I’m not even sure that’s the correct terminology.
Out of Home advertising, on the other hand, can be far more tactful. It’s your friend who would always encourage you to treat yourself to that latte/new pair of boots/decadent mini-break … because you deserve it. You’re not OOH’s only friend, of course, they are a popular character who chats to all sorts of people, but the main thing to remember is that you are definitely one of them. The sight of a Calvin Klein billboard, or an achingly cool Topshop model winking at me on a digital screen in the area I live or pass through regularly is actually quite flattering.
Why? You know that the advert has been carefully positioned there because of a particular audience, aka me. Despite the fact that the brand may prefer to catch the eyes of some of my more affluent neighbours, it still feels like you’re one of the chosen ones.
You can still be targeted and cleverly single out individuals in the crowd without being tactless, insensitive and sometimes offensive. Spotify are a great example of this with their campaign at the end of 2016 where they used user data to send ‘direct’ messages to specific subscribers knowing it would provide entertainment for everyone else who saw it. I particularly love whoever played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day, seriously though, what did you do?
So as much as I know you’re here to stay, my sweet digital online advert friend, I implore you to take a small pause and think before you speak. I’d like to keep you in my life, but maybe you could focus less on my reproductive system and more on things I’d like to see, like 80% off at & Other Stories? And you, Out of Home ads, I may sometimes resist your alluring pulls towards everything from fried chicken to haute couture, but as long as you keep resisting the urge to make me feel like I’m some sort of failure for swerving the nappy aisle in the supermarket, then I think we’ll be lifelong pals.
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