Advertising – online vs. offline

Dear Reader,

Do you have a favorite bistro, cafe, pub or bar? A place you call your 2nd living room, where they know you by face, or even by name?

I do. Actually I have a couple of those. I walk in, we exchange nods or hellos, and I get the usual. The staff knows me. They memorized my face and what I drink. Sometimes the staff offers something different, which they think I might like. In new marketing lingo that is called customer relationship management. In meatspace I am fine with that.

Most places have chalk boards with daily specials or new offers. That is advertising or newspeak ‘in-store-promotion’, and I am fine with that, as long as it is non-offensive. If the stuff is blinking, making noise, in my face all the time, then it is a nuisance. And I stop going there.

Very few places have my email address, and they sometimes inform me about events, specials, news. That is called opt-in direct marketing. And since I gave them my email address, I am fine with that too. For as long as I can opt-out, and only if they do not sell my email address to third parties.

But all this is not what online advertising is about.

Let me stay with the example of your favorite bar and what it would be like, if they took online advertising into meat space. Imagine the bar owner hires spies to follow you around 24/7. These people record all the places you go, all the people you talk to, and all the conversations you have. It records all your purchases and your consumption. And then they draw conclusions from that.

Would you be OK with that?

Google and other online advertisers spy on you like that. They give you a permanent ID. They plant a permanent file on your PC or smartphone. Or you are identified by your unique network card number, or the IMEI of your phone, plus operating system + browser + addons + the settings of all the above. The spying files have funny names like cookie, super cookie, or beacon. The names are supposed to hide the intrusiveness, the spying.

What are the implications?

Imagine you walk into the bar, and the staff tell you: “Sorry, you have to pay double for your drink now”. Because they know, that you paid that much in another place last week. Or: “We do not offer you coffee anymore.” Because they know, in other places you have champagne. And that is more profitable. Or the staff tells you: “Sorry, we do not serve you anything”. Because you had 10 drinks this week already, and you have five bottles of beer and one of vodka in your fridge, and that is above what they – or the government – think you should have.

And online, every website can do that tracking and spying. Amazon, eBay, Twitter, F*c*book, most of them do it. As soon as a website has the F*c*book Like button or Google +, they are spying on you. Imagine every store you pass on the street, would spy on you like that.

Would you accept that?

One of the euphemisms for these practices is liquid pricing. And it is reality for airline tickets, train and ferry tickets, for insurance policies, and many others. Liquid pricing is for the advantage of the supplier. Its goal is to maximize profit. They want to get the most out of you. Or frankly, you are taken for a ride.

And that is why I dislike online advertising and the people using it. Where I can see an advantage in traditional advertising, and can opt-out of that, in online advertising aka spying, the goal is to rip you off. And to limit choice.

Sorry, no cheap car insurance for you, you have bad neighbors. Sorry, no health insurance for you, you googled cancer a few times too often.

If you want to know, how to prevent some of the stuff, let us know.

Engine Room

4 thoughts on “Advertising – online vs. offline

  1. I admit to online shopping as I can’t always get the product I want locally and it’s delivered to my desk.
    The problem is you are inundated with stuff forever as you have to put in your email address. Even if you unsubscribe it takes 30 days.
    The new one is the ambulance chasers on you’re mobile, asking about the recent accident you didn’t have.
    I love the technology, but hate the intrusion into my life.
    Waiting for Smiles to arrive.

  2. There was a phone in today talking about just this, due to the Talk Talk cyberfraud. A woman rang in and said that “they” were following her everywhere, on her phone, computer etc. They cut her off! They missed the point, she was only putting over what you are saying here, but they assumed she was nuts.
    I always heed what you say about this stuff ER, but you are a little nuts too. How can anyone do without a credit card, or occasionally shop on line etc. I have a credit card with limited funds, specifically dedicated for on line shopping. The convenience is too alluring! Mind you the potential criminal activity lurking in wait is quite disconcerting. I just hope we can keep ducking and diving for long enough to avoid a fraud of some sort, especially in those bars we so frequent. Perhaps my trusty Linux Mint is helping?
    Your health and bubbles up your nose.

  3. For your amusement…..

    Dear Benefits Office Manager:

    My name is Mohammed Reza and I live in Luton , and I would
    like to present before you the following story.
    Many years ago, I married a widow out of love who had an
    18-year-old daughter.
    After the wedding, my father, a widower, came to visit a number of
    times, and he fell in love with my step-daughter.
    My father eventually married her without my authorization.
    As a result, my step-daughter legally became my step-mother and my
    father my son-in-law.
    My father’s wife (also my step-daughter) and my step-mother, gave birth to a son who is my grandchild because I am the husband of
    my step-daughter’s mother.
    This boy is also my brother, as the son of my father. As you can see,
    my wife became a grandmother, because she is the
    mother of my father’s wife.
    Therefore, it appears that I am also my wife’s grandchild.
    A short time after these events, my wife gave birth to a son, who
    became my father’s brother-in-law, the step-son of my father’s
    wife, and my uncle.
    My son is also my step-mother’s brother, and through my step-mother, my wife has become a grandmother and I have become my own
    In light of the above mentioned, I would like to know the following:
    Does my son, who is also my uncle, my father’s son-in-law, and my
    step-mother’s brother fulfill the requirements for receiving childcare

    Sincerely yours,


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