Friday, September 25, 2015

Ad Blocking, Customer Tracking and Dark Side of Modern Marketing

In the days following Dreamforce, I came across this post from the Lefsetz Letter on ad blocking. As you've probably seen, ad blocking has become a larger issue as Apple has announced that they would include Ad Blocker software in Safari. This has some advertising driven content sites up in arms, expressing concerns over lost revenue and the "what will pay for their content" argument.

The article that I've linked to here plays counter to the "websites will suffer" in a broad rant that touches on many problematic aspects of the greater issues surrounding much of online advertising.
It’s like there are two internets. One of skeptical consumers doing their best to navigate their lives and the other of scumbag providers doing their best to win through subterfuge.
Fundamentally, that sums it all up. While some web sites want to talk about advertising as being essential life blood, the reality is that online advertising is a primary vector for bad things happening to your computer. Malware, spyware, or your computer just being forced to behave in ways that you don't want it to are all ripples left in the wake of online advertising.

As you reflect back over some of the messages at Dreamforce, the idea of "knowing your customer" and providing a personalized customer experience, this is essentially doublespeak for spying and tracking your customer. If it was a person following you around everywhere, knowing your secret hang-outs and suddenly appearing in the places you go -- creepy stalker. But when businesses do that online, it's just business. Modern business. Because the excuse is that they "deliver better quality content to you."

I recently had to send an unpleasant "don't call us" email to a sales guy who responded with an explanation of using the "waterfall method" of cold calling. Essentially, this strategy suggests starting at the top and cold contacting every senior contact that you can because those senior guys may not be responsible for the specific thing, but they'll delegate it to someone who will feel required to respond. And so, congratulations, you just got a "no" response for your shitty consulting service that we didn't need anyway. We can't all handle products that people actually want, that they pursue.

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