A Patent Too Far?

Bumper sticker for kale
It might be a good way of advertising, but I’m still not buying any.

Ever since first reading about Apple filing a patent for a process that could target advertising based on your ability to pay for something, my head has been spinning. My first thoughts were that I should really look into those services that say they can lock down my credit reports. My second, third and fourth through eight thousandth thoughts were all some form of “what are they thinking?

I am not a marketing expert, not by any stretch of the imagination. On the other hand, I am highly susceptible to the influential power of good marketing.

The operative word in that self-deprecating comment is “good” and good is what I consider good, Not what Big-Data Analytics thinks I should like and not what the The Clio Awards committee thinks is good. Seriously, I love the ad that helped win Guinness a Clio, but I don’t like their beer. I’ve tried regular dark Guinness and I’ve tried Guinness Blonde and neither are ever going to get a second pull for me. The ad would have to say something like

New and improved – Guinness now tastes like Yeungling.”

I don’t know what makes a good ad, remember, I’m not a marketing expert. A “good ad” is a Potter Stewart moment (the Supreme Court Justice who said “I’ll know it when I see it” about obscenity for those of you who are under 60). That being said, I do know what makes a bad ad. Apple, if you’re listening – there are those who would say “dude, you have an iPhone, of course they’re listening” – you should pay attention to what follows. Bad ads:

Try to manipulate me – Watching a magician work his/her slight-of-hand is fascinating. Losing $20 to a guy playing Three-Card Monty is infuriating. Trying to make me feel smart, discerning or discriminating while simultaneously separating me from my hard-earned money, breeds contempt, not loyalty.

Try to wear me down – Over and over, in my face, on my browser, on my phone, in my inbox or wrapped around the Sunday Comics. Take this approach and you and your product are dead to me.

Illustrate how little you actually know – Especially if you should know something about me, my habits, and my desires, say if I am a previous customer, if I’ve mentioned you in social media or if you have access to qualitative information about me. I frequently get emails from companies that start with “Sorry we missed you at (insert name of over-hyped technology conference that I didn’t attend here).” When companies act on bad assumptions, they look stupid, and I don’t want to buy stuff from stupid people.

I could go on, but I’m drifting away from the topic. Apple’s new patent, right? Apple wants to check my bank balance before showing me an ad so they can target-market to me, stuff that I can actually afford.

I’m not making this up. You can read about this all over the place – search “Apple check credit patent” or read this article on Forbes if you can see it between the ads they keep putting in front of you because Forbes is brutal with ads.

How bad is this idea?

I can’t begin to describe how bad or even all of the ways this idea is bad, but of course I’m going to try.

Let’s start with “Apple, you’re abusing your right to access my credit information!” – That’s a starting point that should be a finish line. That should put this in the “dumb idea” category faster than you can say “…hasn’t been the same since Steve Jobs died.”

My life isn’t controlled by metrics – I buy what I can afford, not what you think I can afford. If you want to know what I can afford, ask my wife. That’s what I do. I might buy things I probably can’t “afford” and I have passed by things I could afford in favor of a less expensive thing that I like better. Remember, I’m the guy wearing a $29 Timex watch that tells the time and the date within a day or two.

Apple stinks at guessing what I want to do – Recently, I was trying to type “much more” on my iPhone. I was misspelling it, and my phone suggested “much ore” – yeah, that’s it. That’s what I was going for. I need much ore before I can open my steel mill. Thanks Apple, it’s amazing how well you know me.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I recognize, or am alerted to how clever or sophisticated a company’s marketing is, I tend to back away. I own several Apple products, but I chose to buy them based on recommendations from friends and personal research. I wasn’t responding to ads.

Destroyed target
I asked a friend for a photo of a target. See, things don’t end well for targets.

I don’t like ads that are targeted at me, because I don’t like being a target. Things don’t end well for targets. How about you, do you like being a target?


  1. I hate ads. If a company were to specifically target me with its ads, I think I’d lose my mind. That Apple’s idea stinks. But I had to laugh aloud at how your “much more” became “much ore”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They try very hard to target us today. They have the data but, apparently they don’t have the horsepower running on their websites…yet. I sent my daughter an email where I mentioned getting a new car. Within hours, Google, who reads your gMail, was presenting me add from local car dealerships.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve had similar experiences with my email on my desktop. I find it unnerving. Just because I tell my daughter in an email what colors I’m thinking of painting my house, does not mean I want to be inundated with ads from paint stores. (for instance)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As I type this on my Mac laptop, I am incensed. Where does it stop? On my TV, I constantly hit the mute button because I don’t want to listen to ads for things I could care less about or whose side effects are going to kill me. And, auto correct could be a whole post by itself. But, on the internet there is no mute button – now there is something for some to get a patent for. :-)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Judy. I love your comment about the side effects. I watch those ads and think “how bad could the condition be that this stuff is trying to treat?” An Internet mute button is something I would buy :)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Trust me, or I should say, “Trust my stomach” to read the words “Apple filing” to interpret them as Apple Filling… as in pie. mmmmm, pie. I’m going to blame the image of the word “kale” for that wee detour.

    Back on track: brilliant post. It deserves a wide readership.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Maggie – Piiiiiiie, yes, now I need dessert. Oh wait, I just had cookies and chocolate milk. But still, pie… I don’t know how you got from Kale to pie, but I apprecate the fact that you liked the post. sooner or later, we have to say “no – do NOT do this” or they are going to put an absolute end to privacy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Dan I really had no clue about that. I will definitely read that Forbes article. What you are writing here is truly unbelievable! I am an Apple products fan, truly but they are pushing much too far this time.
    Thanks for this valuable information

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I voted for the last two, Dan. I detest sales and their manipulations. And now to think that Apple wants to access your private financial information? Are you kidding me? What right do they have? How can they even get away with that? That is invasion of privacy! You really don’t want to know what I am thinking right now.
    And oh, about my post. I had to delete the first one because it did not show in the reader so I reposted a new one. So your beautiful comment will not be showing. But I really thank you for your generous praise of this post. I was blown away by this tiny waterfall!!!
    Have a great weekend!!! Love, Amy <3

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good post, Dan. I don’t like ads, period. You know how the Sunday newspaper is always filled with ads–tons of them? Not mine. I throw them out before the news enters my house, Pop-ups are blocked. I didn’t realize you can be sent ads based on your emails?! God help us all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, Google reads your gmail. Microsoft reads the documents you store online. It’s truly abusive. Google, I can almost see since gmail is free but I’m paying Apple and Microsoft and they’re still doing it.


  7. Ugh, you’re so right, Dan. This new marketing racket ranks right up there as one of the worst ideas ever. I finally got fed up with all of the internet ads and installed AdBlock. I mean, when you go to a major American newspaper’s site and it looks like you accidentally ended up on TMZ? Something is seriously wrong. And I like how advertisers’ answer to AdBlock rolling out on mobile wasn’t to listen to the complaints that ads were just too intrusive, but instead they opened the flood gates and made their ads more aggressive, more plentiful, and MORE intrusive than every before. Sometimes it’s like the marketing people know less about marketing than anyone else!

    The only ads I ever pay any attention to are the grocery flyers, and even then, if it’s not an essential, I’m probably not buying.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I only clicked “Like” because you don’t have a “Love” button on here. As an author AND a caregiver for my mother, I look at many websites and search for many potentially disturbing pieces of information. You’d be amazed at how many ads for guns and medical supplies I see. I could totally outfit a walker to deal hot death.

    And I love Guinness! lol

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What is that egg addition to Reese’s ??? I don’t walk the candy aisle because my chocolate weakness is for handsful of Nestle’s chocolate chips which are in the baking aisle (as are rice milk and coconut-chia milk which seems an odd decision by grocers because I invariably look for them in one of the many beverage aisles). But I do raid the Reese’s from Sparks’ and Raqi’s Halloween pillowcases. Is the ‘egg’ a new Reese’s shape or a healthy ‘protein addition’? What’s next? Reese’s Cups With Kale?

    I find it extrememly alarming that our credit reports can be accessed this way. I have a perpetual alert on mine ( so I get NO junk credit mail solicitations), and check each one of the credit agencies every 3 months on an alternating basis.

    But I wonder if your/our outrage is a generational thing. Are youngers so inurred to these electronic takeovers and subliminal ads and targeting methods that this won’t strike the same nerves in them as it does us?

    Seems the season for alarm and outrage. I have been so shaken by the images of fetal tissue procurement, and then I read a piece about the whole Tinder app and the callous mysogynistic way men and women (yes there IS consent) are hooking up via that App. Now comes your outrage at yet another intrusion into our privacy. And I think for the 8,000 time “the planet will be just fine, but humanity’s self-destruction is imminent. What is the point of human existence if we destroy humanity?

    Ok, I see now I should have written my own post because WP tells me this response is too long. Sorry to dump my outrage on your outrage. I’m now returning to my coffee-with-miralax, scone and fresh blueberries.

    Go pet Mimi and lower your blood pressure 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s ok Sammy. Pile it on AND write your own. If people feel that these ads are helpful then they are doomed to buying from the richest supplier and probably elect the richest candidate. Reese’s eggs are only out for Easter but the market a football (perhaps that’s dootball) in the fall that uses the same mold. It’s about twice the peanut butter to chocolate ratio.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. If we keep this up, ‘dootball’ is going to be a thing. I like football, but I am busy following baseball right now. I’ll watch all the games I can, but September gets to be a little too crowded. I didn’t realize that WP put a limit on comment size.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That was facetious about the comment length. WP suggests (in their ‘how to’ posts) that longer comments should be nixed in favor of writing your own post. Thus I hear WP in my head because even my short comments are longer than most other people write.

            Sometimes I worry that bloggers wish I’d shorten my comments; sometimes I ignore WP’s advice; sometimes I write my own post and sometimes I reach for the chocolate. Mostly the last.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post, Dan. Good conversation threads too. “a starting point that should be a finish line” indeed! An elementary school teacher told me something that always stuck with me — Just because you *can* do something, doesn’t mean that you should! Mega hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am heading back to write about your Babson College doors in a minute, Dan!
    I could not resist voting: If they target me, which I probably am not on their “radar” let’s be frank. Okay, we cannot be frank but honest. I would not appreciate ads aimed at my purchasing choices. I would probably be obstinate and buy another brand, depending on how pushy they were.
    On the other hand, I love the way certain companies do send you appropriate coupons that fit your buying needs. Walgreens does this and they kindly linked in my AARP with my card they scan, too. Double buying choices :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t mind good marketing from a company with a local presence. I resist ads from low-price out of state companies that don’t collect sales tax and are working to put the local guy out of business because they don’t offer service, just price. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are choosing wisely, Dan. By the way, I happen to enjoy baby kale in salads and my youngest daughter know how to put olive oil on kale pieces with sea salt and seasonings to make yummy (surprisingly melt in your mouth) chips.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post, Dan. However, I strongly believe and will continue to believe that a good product needs no or very little marketing. Starbucks and McDonalds do ads, but there are many local cake shops and diners that never do any marketing at all, they don’t even have menu cards. Everything is written on a chalkboard. They don’t do home deliveries, they don’t print hoardings, nothing at all. They only create the same quality of products that our grandfathers and fathers ate & use and now we are doing the same. These shops and diners make good income and wrap up their stocks by the end of the day and its the same story for them for decades now. They don’t have Six Sigma qualified people and no computers as well, but they provide the best hospitality that you would expect. They just steal your heart with their warmth, smile and good product. Something that MNCs can’t do, because Business is about People, not about Numbers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true Sharukh but there are dangers. The companies that promise to fly stuff to your door within two hours of ordering online, these trends scare me because once they wipe out the little guy, then you are at their mercy. We used ot have local stationary stores that were very nice places to shop. When Staples and Office Max were fighting them, they had more variety and better service. Once the last of the little stores were gone, the big boys cut back on both variety and service.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, to some extent I see that trend here, but things here are different than in the States. We are sort of stubborn on buying offline than online, or should I say the online dominance era hasn’t arrived completely yet in India.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I shop at Amazon. The most annoying aspect of this is that after I’ve shopped, my FB continually shows me the exact things I’ve shopped for. Do I want to purchase the things I’ve just purchased? No. Do I want to purchase similar items? No. Once I’ve bought it, I’m done. To me, that tells me that Amazon is way to free about sharing, I don’t need them accessing my accounts or my credit report. Then what will those ads read? “Poor freelance writers like you are also buying lemon zesters and bud vases. Don’t you want to buy lemon zesters and bud vases, too?” Then will jobs advertise their level of income to make the ads better? “JoleneMMottern, people with marketing degrees spend on average $400 a month on shoes, come here to get your marketing degree and a coupon for 30% off new shoes!”
    I hate ads, and yes, they are everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the worst case scenarios on this are hard to fathom. You’re doing a pretty good job though. I don’t usually shop at Amazon (wife) but I had such an awful experience last year trying to spend s gift card that I dread dealing with them. Now I have another gift card :(


  14. I love targeted ads. For instance, I bought some Rust Bullit (the greatest for preventing rust at the coast) and now every time I go on several sites a Rust Bullit ad shows up. I already bought, and I’m not buying again. SO CUT IT OUT!!!!! Good post Dan

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This idea from Apple is simply the worst! I hadn’t noticed the targeted emails – we might not have them down here, either. I’ll pay closer attention, now. Although, come to think of it perhaps Google has figured out how much I hate to shop! True, it’s not my fun thing.
    I’ve actually become blind to ads on FB – I don’t even notice them these days. But if they got intrusive it would be enough to drive me off that platform, once and for all.
    Dan, this is a great post. We all need to fight back about this, we are being treated more and more as if we’re commodities, ourselves – seriously crazy stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jill. I am also pretty good at ignoring ads on Facebook and I think they know that people don’t really need to be there. I mostly ignore Google ads but when I send an email and then start seeing ads for something I talked about in that email, it creeps me out a little. Knowing how much I have to spend is too much.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Not a fan of apple products since their entire product marketing standards have always been to make others feel less than for not being a part of their clique. Add to that they are notorious for selling products which have accessories separate to drive up the final cost of anything one buys from them. I find them/their techniques rather obnoxious!

    The funny thing is, many apple product owners are just as angry but they rather belong to the “club” than not be able to fit in with their friends. Sad…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like my iPhone, and I have an iPad and a Mac because I develop a few apps for our company and that’s the platform we decided to use, but I mainly use a Windows laptop. Still, I don’t think any of these companies are trustworthy. I just want the technology, I don’t need the cool factor, these things are in a bag most of the time. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Yes. It’s horrifying, isn’t it. I minimize my use of anything Google-run as a point of principle. Google feels like a giant engine trying to take over your electronic life. What most people respond to, I feel, is marketing based on values.


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