“Best Buy is even using one of the creepier technologies out there known as retargeting. If you shop for blender online but don’t buy it, you may well be surrounded by blender ads on other Web sites.”
The quote above appeared in the New York Times yesterday in an article about Best Buy’s truly innovative and bold use of social media in its holiday ad campaign. The article written by the highly respected Saul Hansell focuses on the companies rapidly developing ‘Twelpforce’ which is a fine contribution to customer service if not the English language (the much lamented William Safire will be turning in his grave).
Saul, through his choice of language, has not helped the debate about the application of data to increase the efficiency of advertising and his use of the word ‘creepy’ (see under Letterman, allegedly) has just the wrong emotive and alarmist tone and has no relation to any identifiable harm to the consumer. If you browse an online store for blenders it would imply that they were of interest to you and at the very worst being exposed to blender ads (‘surrounded’ might be pushing it) on other sites might be of little value but creepy they are not.