Over at Mashable, this weekend they covered the story of How One Woman Hid Her Pregnancy From Big Data, that woman being Janet Vertesi, assistant professor of sociology at Princeton University.
[There will be irony in this vent. You see dear readers, I am a marketer. I develop strategies and target audiences on the internet, all day long, every day]
Between a Bullet & a Target
It brought to mind my first run in with targeted advertisement on Facebook. I was researching a Kiehl’s cream on Nordstrom, bought it and lo and behold the next time, I went on Facebook, I was served up a Nordstrom Ad for the same cream, which I snickered at because I HAD ALREADY bought the cream – get it right, folks.
Any way, fast forward to the present. Here I am in full wedding planning swing. I was forewarned that I should make an alternate email address just for the wedding spam but I didn’t listen. And now I being inundated but it’s not just email anymore.
The data-collecting bots and cookies online, the services tracking credit card purchases and email scanners – all of it, collecting big data and aggregating my shopping behavior has resulted in a deluge of deluge of direct mail, email marketing, and targeted advertisements that are driving me bananas.
You can keep your Mason Jars & Mustaches
I was never one of those women who had their wedding plans laid out in front of them before puberty. In fact, the whole idea of planning a wedding gave me the heebie jeebies but it had to be done so I did it. I dealt with all the sales and peer pressure. We hunkered down and first we got a venue, then I bought a dress, made my own wedding website, then we hired a DJ, and next a florist and lastly a photographer/videographer.
I didn’t know a lot about weddings but what I did know is that I wanted it to be my own. I didn’t want it to be cookie cutter, out-of-control, traditional or follow the trend(s) of the year.
And what I saw at during my initial research terrified me. Lots of corny, cheesy, tacky-ticky, satin, sequin, iced, princess, heart-shaped, on and on, ad nauseam – ideas and lists of stuff. Stuff to make, stuff to buy, stuff to try, stuff to throw, stuff to giveaway. I mean non stop and one point, you just say to yourself: I had no idea the wedding industry had become this behemoth money gambit and you feel sullied. You feel exploited and slightly queasy. Because this was supposed to be about love, this one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime thing between you and this other person, not this endless game of dime a dozen, nickel and dimed negotiation nightmare.
Pressure to be “Perfect”
A lot of the messaging I am seeing is about the perfect day and the perfect wedding, the perfect dress and the appropriate etiquette. It’s maddening and defeatist. Are we, as women, pressured enough to be perfect? Why should this day of all days carry such a burden of ‘perfect?’ What’s if I am not perfect, just a normal, flawed human being? What if my day isn’t perfect in the sense that it is mine, my version of perfect and therefore imperfect?
EE (Everything Everywhere)
And because omnichannel marketing is tracking us from every angle available, the monstrosity of weddings is incessant. I open my mailbox to buckling loads of DJ & Venue postcards, Wedding Dress & Favor Catalogs and other “special” offers. On every single network, whether it’s Facebook or Pinterest, again all I “see” is wedding related offers. My email, dear lord, my inbox,… David’s Bridal – I am talking to you, how many times a day can you possibly email someone?
We are all well aware, there’s a lot of noise on the web, a lot of broadcasting, a lot of (dare I say) marketers. But here’s the thing, this megaphone broadcasting, spread and splatter, one size fits all, stuff isn’t working.
There are ways to deter the onslaught. Like Janet, I could clear caches and make dedicated accounts for my wedding research but really why should I have to bear the burden of misappropriated marketing?
Do the Right Thing
Use those insights, that data smartly, don’t drive your potential users/buyers away and don’t market recklessly to people who’ve already made a purchase decision. I’m not just a target, a data source, a segment, a touch point, an opportunity…
I’ll leave you with these parting words:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. –W.B. Yeats