Tag Archives: targeted advertising

More Facebook Ad FAIL

7 Mar

For crying out loud.  Apparently now Facebook thinks I’m a black father, WTF? (click for larger image


Dear Mark Zuckerberg: Please Remove Your Head From Your Ass

28 Feb

Despite its ridiculous popularity and apparently top-notch staff (or so I’ve been told/heard), Facebook continues to disappoint.  Sure, the core service is OK (at best), but there’s sooooooo many painfully obvious changes that need to be made for the service to be considered good (lets not even talk about great yet, baby steps, baby steps).  In no particular order, here’s a few suggestions from a former web designer/programmer that I think would vastly improve the Facebook experience:

  • Implement an option that blocks mobile notifications when logged-into the website.  Its pretty annoying when I’m sitting in front of my computer and then my blackberry blows up 30 seconds later.  Seriously, this is pretty simple shit, wtf, does anyone at Facebook actually use Facebook + Facebook Mobile?
  • Please also add an option that allows users to choose from who they received notifications on photo/status/etc comments.  If I comment on a friend’s status/photo, I couldn’t give less of a shit if said friend’s friend – who I’ve never heard of, let alone met – left a comment after me.  Maybe some people do, however, most people with whom I’ve spoken, dont.
  • While I applaud Facebook for having the best privacy options of the big social networking sites (Linkedin is awful, Myspace isn’t much better), it seems that Facebook doesn’t have a single employee whose sole job is to test Facebook’s privacy controls.  Seriously, would it kill you guys to, ya’ know, test shit before doing a full-scale roll-out?  And if you do test, you’re doing a horrible, pathetic job.  Get your shit together.
  • Facebook is unique in that user profiles contain mostly-accurate, granular demographic data.  In the religion field, my profile clearly says “Jewish,” however just now (for the umpteenth time!), your “targeted advertising system” delivered an ad for ichurch.com “Dating for Christian Singles.”  THIS ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!  Seriously, what is the problem?  You even allow users to mark ads as useless/etc, which I have, dozens of times, but to no avail.  How you’re able to sell ads is frankly, beyond my comprehension, to the point where I wonder if you’re completely fudging the results ala Madoff.
  • Your “customer service” department – to the extent that it uh, actually exists – is FUCKING USELESS.  USELESS! I’ve spent the past few months trying to establish an account for myself (Anal_yst, that is), however, your software apparently considers the word “anal” to be offensive and thus automatically blocks all of my registration efforts.  One of your “customer service” reps emailed me back (after a few weeks, that is) like one of us (or both?) had never used a computer before.  I emailed her back, and proceeded to wait what, 2+ weeks for another useless, inane response.  I asked to speak to her supervisor since she’d so conveniently wasted a month of my time (I was slightly more polite, in actuality), which resulted in an “apology” and more FUCKING USELESS instructions. Ma’am, and all of Team Facebook: While I may not be David Pogue or Walt Mossberg, it’d likely behoove you NOT to piss off someone who writes for The Atlantic. Be thankful I’m not (yet) of a vengeful demeanor.

Oh, and lest you doubt, here’s a screenshot from about 10 minutes ago illustrating how much your ad-delivery system blows.

If these are unintentional oversights, perhaps you’d like to hire me as a consultant.  My fees are very reasonable, and I guarantee I won’t just kiss management’s ass (clearly) and put together a bunch of pretty Power Point slides with a bunch of meaningless “statistics”.

If intentional, look, I get it: you’re between a rock and a hard place.  On one hand, you need to keep your users happy-enough that they don’t bail, but on the other, you need pageviews (etc).   Methinks you’d be well-served to pay more attention to the former, lest you inadvertently screw up the latter

Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.



Targeted Advertising Fail #873,975,294

26 Feb

Firstly, yes, I read thesuperficial (not that I give a flying f*ck about Lindsay Lohan or whatever, but its a solid way to maintain a dying convo with some girls in NYC.  Also, and more importantly, who DOESN’T like Bar Rafaeli in a bikini?!  Exactly.)

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to revisit a topic I’ve been following since late 2002/early 2003: Targeted internet advertising (or lack thereof).    I’ve done a fair deal of programming and web design in my day, so I understand that in practice, delivering (with any semblance of accuracy, efficacy, consistency, etc) truly targeted ads is not as easy as it sounds.  However, every now and then (I’m looking at you, Facebook) I encounter an example of an utter FAIL that I’m moved to take pen to paper (er fingers to keyboard, as it were).

Today, we’re going to examine what I think are two simple (not mutually exclusive) aspects of any high-level, rules-based ad-delivery scheme: Language and demographics.  Take, for example, this screenshot from thesuperficial for McDonalds:

Why is this such a targeted advertising FAIL?

  • thesuperficial.com is an English-language site.  The ad, as you can clearly see, is in Spanish.  The site is not published in any other languages.
  • I’ve never seen a non-English ad on this site (and I’m a fairly regular reader).
  • My Spanish is a little rusty, but I’m pretty sure that’s an ad for 2 for $3 Fillet-o-Fish (aka McFish) sandwiches.
  • Sure, its Lent, and apparently this is the time of year when McDonald’s sells 25% (“apparently” being the key word) of the things.  I haven’t found any reliable data on what % of Global annual sales the McFish represents, but I’d imagine its pretty minimal (best guess low-to-mid single digit %).
  • Alexa informs us the demographics for The Superficial are as follows:

So, what we know is that relative to the rest of the web, The Superficial readers are generally 18-34, mostly Female, college-educated, accessing the site from work or home.

So, a question for the audience: What’s the demographic overlap between The Superficial’s readership and consumers of the Filet-o-Fish?

Disappointingly, I don’t have a conclusive answer, and despite wasting the past 2 hours of my life on it, can’t seem to find the underlying data I’d need to prove this FAIL beyond a shadow of a doubt, argh!

What I did find, though, is that among college graduates, those identifying themselves as Hispanic (approximately the same for both men and women) represent maybe 10% (+/- a few % points) of college graduates in the U.S. from the data I have examined.  Just based-upon the facts we do know (english site,~ 90%+ non-hispanic readership, relatively unpopular food item, etc), I just can’t seem to figure out the rationale for serving the McFish ad on this website.  In fairness to the technology, I went through the next 15 pages and couldn’t get the system to serve the ad again, so perhaps it was something of a fluke.

On the other hand, just Facebook, alone, serves up so many horrendously-targeted ads every day, I’m loathe to give the technology the benefit of the doubt.

Verdict:  Spanish ads for tertiary menu items on English language sites with majority non-Hispanic readership?  FAIL