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.