On being the target of targeted advertisements


At one point I used to think that mothers know us the best.  Today there is someone to beat mothers thumbs down in how well they know us – the advertiser.  Unlike my mother they seem to have the access to my innermost thoughts, conversations and moods with access to my mails, facebook, search histories, and what not.  With the advent of targeted advertising I have started learning what they have learned about me.

Last week almost all advertisements carefully picked for me were buxom women, enticing me to join a dating service. These advertisements seem to suggest that the only thing on my mind is voluptuous women and I have been rather irritated.  I patiently tried clicking the “dislike this ad” option at least a  hundred times.  That did not work.  I then tried clicking those occasional advertisements on other subjects such as writing or economics with the vein hope of misleading marketers of my interests.  That did not work.  Frustrated, I decided to declare to one popular social networking site that I am in a relationship (that contains letter 6 and letter 2 in the acronym, don’t tell them).  As soon as I selected the option I had a new advertisement saying “wanted new men”.  In desperation I then decided to announce that I am married.

I hope the advertisements will stop now.  If they do not, I am considering having a sex change.  I may even consider becoming much younger with a desperate hope that dating sites may not target eight-year-olds.  I guess I should watch out these incremental steps.  If I do all of them, I’ll be an eight year old married girl which may lead to different kinds of trouble.

Ps: it has been a week since I declared myself married, and I am happy to report that marketers are as vulnerable to cheating as mothers.  Advertisements with those inviting women have almost disappeared; sometimes I miss them.  I now get advertisements for part time jobs, invitations to tattoo my wife’s name on my hands and other most interesting advertisements.  Sometimes I am overwhelmed to be recognised as a person of so many talents.  One ad looking for musically talented men was specially chosen for me; another invited me to become a police officer, and there have been other offers for my talents in my spare time.  I now realise that there are real advantages to being married in the virtual world.  I expect to stay happily married ever after.


About Vivek Srinivasan

I work with the Program on Liberation Technology at Stanford University. Before this, I worked with the Right to Food Campaign and other rights based campaigns in India. To learn more, click here.

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