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.
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?