We all know that our online activities are used to send us tailored or targeted advertising – right?
In a recent episode of Benjamin Walker’s Theory of Everything, I learned that those ads work not because they trigger a latent desire or confirm an internal image we have of ourselves, but rather because they represent an external perspective wthat e find flattering.
We’re more likely to buy the product because we respond positively to the fact that we are considered sporty enough for Google’s algorithm to offer us those skis, or sufficiently intellectual to merit an ad for an online MBA.
We receive unsolicited suggestions all day from colleagues and shop assistants and waiters and TV gurus and we ignore most of them because we don’t feel they know us well enough to offer a sincere opinion. But we see Google’s algorithm as an infallible reflection of our own behaviour and click far more readily than one would expect.
The funny thing is that this only works if we know that we’ve been targeted, and so far from hiding their hand, Google, Facebook and over 200 other companies now mark targeted ads with a blue triangle in order to activate the relevant emotional response and trigger those clicks…