Direct Marketing

...and I do mean direct!  In the 2002 movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise, the protagonist enters a mall, is scanned, and then targeted by a variety of direct marketing ads.

See for yourself!

Today you are scanned the moment you sit at your computer and begin shopping on the internet.  As Michael Learmonth says in "The Pants that Stalked Me on the Web," after shopping for a pair of shorts he began receiving internet ads aimed at his desire to buy summer pants.  Being a marketing executive he "know[s] why I'm getting these ads. But as a consumer I'd be creeped out by it, and definitely a little annoyed."

On the other hand, Miguel Helft and Tanzina Vega report that "this form of highly personalized marketing is being hailed as the latest breakthrough because it tries to show consumers the right ad at the right time."  So internet advertisers are doing us all a favor, we aren't inundated with ads for products we aren't interested in only products that may coax those dollars from our wallets.

It seems that most people aren't too concerned about this kind of targeted marketing, so does that mean that biometric ad targeting isn't far behind?

What do you think?  Are all the surveillance cameras in our society going to be taken over by direct marketers to inundate us with ads tailored to our wants and desires?  Creeped out yet?


  1. I think marketers are crossing the line a bit on how they target their consumers. I mean if I just decided to buy my girlfriend something from Victory Secret, all of a sudden I get a bunch of pop ups on Bra specials and what not. It isn't like these marketers really know what I am looking for, they just base their recommendations on past purchases. Also if they are getting their information from other social media outlets, that is even more creepy.

  2. Yes, I do think that most of the surveillance cameras in our society will be taken over by direct marketers. As you mentioned, “in the 2002 movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise, the protagonist enters a mall, is scanned, and then targeted by a variety of direct marketing ads.” I agree with you when you say that today as we sit to shop online we are also in a way being “scanned”. Retargeting relies on a form of online tracking said Miguel Helft and Tanzina Vega, in their essay “Retargeting Ads Follow Surfers to Other Sites.” Helft and Vega, reporters of the New York Times, explained how online retargeting works, if a person views a sneaker, “a cookie is placed into the person’s browser, linking it to the [sneaker]. When that person or someone using the same computer, visits another site, the advertising system creates an ad for that very [sneaker].” So basicalyy, without evening agreeing to give out your information, direct marketers automatically use what you view on your computer as a means to target your interests. It does seem a bit creepy because it is like they are following you.

  3. Christian ArroyoJune 6, 2013 at 10:01 PM

    This reminds me of a story that I heard before about Target tracking purchases made with their card. Pretty much this girl bought everyday products but Target deduced that she was pregnant by the combination of things she bought. Her father was angry...but it turns out Target was right. Marketers are getting too creepy with the information that they keep on us. Especially when they look over past purchases and make assumptions about us. It's kind of like when someone judges you before they get to know you, except every store does this. I have found and attached a link to my story below. Maybe I should have cited the author and page number :p

  4. Internet tracking is the fuel for many online companies today. It has become such a hot topic that someone did a TED talk on the concept and creeped out a whole bunch of intellectuals. Google makes billions with tracking exactly what I do, view, buy, and click on. It really makes sense. These companies give you what you want and help you find interesting things that they know you will enjoy. I do not see a problem here as long as we can turn it off when we want. I have a chrome plug in that blocks tracking sites. Right now, this site is being accessed and tracked by 33 different websites. The humor might be lost on the paranoid.

  5. I often wonder what is the psychological cost of all this crazy advertising. It has to be making us insane, right? I often try and remain immune to the thousands of in your face adds I see everyday, but they are also tapping into your subliminal psyche to sell us stuff we didn't even know we wanted! Even with my marketing "armor" up, and living a pretty low-maintenance lifestyle I often catch myself getting hooked into an ad, and wanting junk. Because of the effort I put in to ignore the ads and the brainwash associated with their messages, I get upset when they work on me. Out of spite I often buy the competition. Say a Coca Cola ad gets my attention, I'm buying Pepsi next time I get a Cola craving, nobody's gonna control me. I wonder what humans would be like without this control, and how different the world would be without the market system and the ads. I don't want to have my brain engineered to run on Doritos, McDonalds, and Budweiser, and one can't help but ponder the cost of all the craziness on our sanity.

  6. I already am creeped out to be honest. I do a lot of online shopping because it is convenient and often I find much better deals. However, the more I do online, I realize how much more marketers know about me. In all of my Google searches for certain styled clothing and what I have bought from those stores often pop up in ADs on the websites I am using. Especially Facebook. No one buys anything from Facebook directly so it seems kind of odd at first that they know what you have been up to, but almost every website nowadays has a "share" button for Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites. Facebook is linked up to almost every single website. So whether it is an article you are reading, a video you are watching, clothes you are buying, or music you are listening to, Facebook is watching. They have eyes all over the internet. And how fast the tech world is growing I would not be surprised if we start seeing individualized advertising on our TVs and even phones soon.

  7. I think this is really creepy, especially because it has happened to me before. I first noticed it either junior or senior year in high school when I was shopping online and saw ads on other websites I visited for the clothes I looked at or bought. It really surprised me and creeped me out because it was the exact clothes that I had clicked on. It even happened to me today; I was browsing on a make up site and minutes later I opened a different tab and an ad was on the side showing the make up I had just looked at. It doesn't really affect me because I usually ignore the ads and don't click on them. Although this marketing technique is probably very effective because it personally targets you based on what you have browsed, it's an invasion of privacy. What if you share a computer with your boyfriend/girlfriend and you're browsing for gifts for that person, then ads will be popping up for those things when the other person uses the computer. Marketers will do anything to get their product out there or well known, even if it means invading personal privacy or using surveillance cameras to target you as a customer. This is a consequence of technology- everyone thinks technology is such a great thing, but there are also trade offs for using it. We don't think twice when sharing something on social media or shopping online, but our browsing is being monitored by outside people like marketers or the government.

  8. I believe that marketers are getting close to that reality. For example when I was on YouTube, the ads that would be placed next to the video would show things that I would like. Then that same problem seem to arise every time I visited a website that all these ads of things that I had either bought or wanting to buy would come up on the website. So after a while I started to get fed up of all these ads. So I looked into it to find the reason why these ads keep targeting me. I found out that nowadays marketers would take your search results wether that be Google or Amazon and then turn out ads based on your searches. I find this to be creepy that they keep recorded of all the things I search on Amazon to then turn out ads. I believe that it is a huge invasion of privacy in my taste because they are keeping tab of my information to gain profits for themselves in the form of ads.

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