Speaking of things we don't need.

I loathe commercials, especially one for products (though everything can be considered a product—even our political ideologies—that’s a topic for another time).  They’re insulting, filled with lies, and their sole purpose is to convince you to buy something you don’t need.  Thankfully, I haven’t had to watch one in several years.

Let’s back up a second.  We don’t have cable of any sort. We have a digital box, but we can’t get it to work, and that’s ok because most of what’s on TV is a bucket o’ crap anyhow.  And, as a “friend” told me, you can actually watch the shows on a variety of Internet sites.  The networks, tired of being “pirated,” have even begun broadcasting the shows on their own websites the next day, albeit with some advertising.

Recently my wife has become addicted to a show called Doc Martin.  It’s filled with British people and British humor, so you may or may not like it (especially if you’re a tosser).  Maybe because it’s British, it’s particularly hard to track down, though Hulu has it, and that’s where we’ve been watching it.

"Hmmm, maybe those pills will work..."

The shows on Hulu, unfortunately, have commercials (unless you pay to upgrade of course).  However, the site has a way of facilitating “relevant” ads for your tastes, albeit with your input.  (As you probably know, the marketing-cloud-entity known as Google (and its competitors) are already doing this whenever you surf the Internet.  That’s why ads you see are eerily similar to your emails, posted stories, and other input with which you provide Skynet, I mean the Internet, in your daily online interactions.)

But Hulu’s mechanism is similar to Facebook’s where you can tell it (him/them?) if an ad is relevant to you or not.  That should yield different results than Google’s algorithms which can produce inaccurate (and hilarious) results depending on how well you fit into the paradigm of their demographic model.  (E.g. I have a female friend who, because of how and what she browses, is targeted with ads for gay black males).

So back to the story: the first ad we said “wasn’t relevant” was for a brand of vodka.  (Never mind that the ad was typically nonsensical—a vision of the future where remotely-controlled robotic dogs race in a desert, cheered on by Liberacesque-clad spectators).  Well, despite our statement of marketing irrelevance, the ad popped up again during the show.  Now, I can concede that perhaps the little AI running behind that particular broadcast cannot change during that episode, or something similar prevents the “ad-tailoring” software from resetting until the next show starts.

But the ad popped up again during the next episode (I hit “not relevant” every time the ad popped up).  Hmmm.

And again during the next episode.

And the next.

And so on for SIX episodes (where we currently are on the show).

I feel there are three possible explanations for this failure of targeted advertising:

1.  That brand of vodka is determined to make themselves relevant to us by driving us to drink through a technology-driven sense of frustration.

2.  They want us to think we can control what ads are being marketed to us, but they really just don’t give a crap.

3. There’s some glitch in the human-coded software that is causing the failure. (BORING….)

I realize we’re simply on a new road to the utopia of “targeted-advertising” that the no-privacy advocates are so fond of toting, and there’s bound to be a few potholes along the way.

Maybe some things shouldn't be tailored...

But I can’t help feeling some satisfaction in deliberately messing with advertisers and marketers who are so determined to consume me as a product rather than treat me as a human being.

Advertisements