Targeted advertising in malls: does anyone else find this annoying?

Aside from the privacy concerns, does anyone find this annoying and rather patronizing? It seems like in order for it to work, it would have to make certain assumptions about people based on things like age, race, and gender, and then present ads targeted to appeal to a demographic.

But take me for example. I’m a female in my mid-40s. I have zero interest in many things that ad-men would probably think mid-40s females would be interested in (family/children, diet, food/cooking, fashion, celebrity gossip, makeup, “chick” movies). And while I am very interested in stereotypically male things like computers, cars, electronic gadgets, action movies, etc., I really don’t want to see ads with bodaciously-bazoomed models in them, either. So where does somebody like me who doesn’t “fit the suit” fit in?

What about gay men who don’t want to have the aforementioned bazooms shoved in their faces? Young African-Americans who don’t like hip-hop music? Twentysomething professional women who’d rather see ads for stockbrokers and upscale clothing stores than “Twilight” and baby clothes?

For me, the resistance to this kind of hyper-targeted advertising isn’t so much a privacy thing as another way for those of us who don’t fall into accepted demographics to be left out. And I’m not sure the best answer is to make more personal info available to advertisers, so I really don’t see an answer that works.

Anybody else agree with me, or am I oversensitive?

I work in marketing, and it seems somewhat untargeted to me, other than basic demographics (age, sex etc). Unless they have some fairly sophisticated technology behind it, it’s fairly much a scattergun approach to targeting a particular audience - one step above bus shelters, billboards and standard mall advertising in terms of location based advertising, but not much. They don’t offer this in Australia yet, but seems akin to lift advertising which is cheap as - you can intimate that it’s not that effective on this basis.

Still, it will probably catch your eye, which is the intent, and a certain percentage of the audience will be affected by it. You may notice it as well, even if you have no need for or interest in the product (around here they advertise thrush medication on the back of womens’ public toilet doors - have no need for this product, and don’t expect to, but I know the brand because of the ads).

Until they begin to target me based on what I am wearing, or my conversation - I’m not that worried personally.

I’m reminded of the creepy retina-scan personalized ads in Minority Report.

The advertising industry already does this all the time, and has been doing so forever.

Sure, of course–but in this case, it’s a bit more insidious. I can choose to read publications and watch shows that cater to the demographic things I’m interested in, and ignore the ones that I’m not interested in. But in this case, I might miss an ad for a new video game or computer gadget in favor of being shown a diet ad or “” or something, and would never know the difference.

Absolutely disgusting. It was bad enough that because I put in my gender as ‘female’ on websites such as Facebook, Livejournal, and Yahoo! Mail, I continually get weight loss ads. Now this will apparently happen when I go to the mall too, plus ads for makeup and clothing with what is sure to be skinny models with perfect skin. Thanks world, I’m glad to hear you expect me not to think I’m beautiful unless I take your diet pills and put on your makeup and lose weight so I can fit in your clothing.

If you are in a mall, aren’t you already shopping?? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the need for more advertising when you are already spending money… ALL advertising is annoying, but this seems to be adding insult to injury.

Just wait until your GPS-equipped cell phone rings, with targeted ads – from a store you’re just about to walk past. And they know from your online searches, etc. a whole lot about what you like.

Really? You don’t? When you’re spending money is the best time to try to get you to buy something, not when you’re out on the beach getting a suntan.

I’d be a little taken aback if as I walk by I see ads for acne products, tooth-whiteners, hair-control gel, rinse-away-the-gray hair coloring, and weight-loss pills. Can they tell if my eyeglasses prescription needs an update? Will they recommend a shoe orthotic if my gait seems off?

Lord, I was in a ladies’ room at a bar last week with a TV screen rotating through still photo ads-but only for cell phones and the morning after pill. If they had targeted ads-hell, it’d probably just show more of the same.

While I have nothing of substance to say on this topic — well, not at 3:11 AM, at any rate — I do feel compelled to point out that the photo accompanying the article was taken at the “Great Mall of Milpitas,” which would make a great stock exclamation for a retro-60s sitcom character.

“GREAT MALL OF MILPITAS, man, what have you done?!”

Good grief. Is there anything that doesn’t annoy someone?

Uh… I’m a guy, and I get weight-loss ads too. I’m pretty sure that’s just one of those things, like penile enhancement, that are really popular for online advertising.

I am a member of and belong to several outdoor activity meetups. They always say I should join the gay outdoors club and I am straight. I always get a chuckle when I see that suggestion pop up on my monitor. I guess some people may get upset about that suggestion.

I recently got an ad in the mail for “Touch of Gray”, which I found particularly amusing because I always laugh at their TV ads. Yes, my beard has been showing increasing amounts of gray over the last few years but there’s not a bit of gray on top of my head, so if I wanted to look younger all I’d have to do is shave.

You are oversensitive. You seem to think that marketing is either for your benefit, or should be ‘democratic’ and ‘inclusive’ and ‘fair’ and ‘representative’ and/or all of that other junk. The marketing campaigns are for the demographics that fit the advertising and vice versa, and who spend money on their products. The marketing is not for you, as it is not for me. I don’t spend money as does my demographic, and the advertisers could care less what I think, or what I think is fair. Join the club!

Best wishes,

How is this any worse than an advertiser putting up an ad for any particular demographic?

Everyone sees hundreds of ads each day that are irrelevant to them.

Yeah, I see your point. But look at it this way: Now, when I walk through a mall (for example), I might see ads for things I’m not interested in (such as perfume, hip-hop clothing, the latest chick flick, or retirement account planning) and things I am interested in (such as electronic gadgets, video games, the latest action movie, or athletic shoes). I can choose to pay attention to or ignore ads, but I might see one that has something I’m interested in (“Oh, the new Final Fantasy game comes out tomorrow? I didn’t know that. I might have to check it out.”)

However, consider what would happen if the mall phased out normal advertising (posters, displays on flat-panel screens that cycle through various ads) and switched over to “demographically targeted” ads. Now, suddenly, based on nothing more than my age and gender (since they don’t know who I am as I walk through the mall and can’t access any information about my previous purchases), I might get shown perfume, the chick flick, and the retirement account planner, and never see the others.

I realize that it’s not all about me (and my fellow demographic aberrations), but I do think that if this sort of advertising is the wave of the future, then there ought to at least be some way a person could specify his or her interests. I mean, if you’re going to be stuck viewing the ads anyway, you might as well have the option to choose ones that might interest you, instead of being chained to your fellow age/sex cohorts.

I’m not against advertising. I’m not even against targeted advertising (if it’s targeted correctly, anyway). I actually enjoy good ads that contain things I’m interested in buying. The only thing I’m against is lumping people together based on criteria that they have no control over, and giving them no opportunity to update their interests or opt out. This new thing seems like a great way to do just that.

The Great Mall of Milpitas is very large, but it’s not that great.