Thursday, September 20, 2007

Targeted Ads and the Uncanny Valley

So I listen to Pandora a bit these days, mostly because I don't really feel like filling up my work computer with songs of questionable origin. Despite the flaws I like to point out in its approach, it is the best thing out there.

The best part about it is that the ads are the worst targeted ads I've seen in a long time. For example, "CLICK HERE TO ADD HEAVENLY SWORD RADIO CHANNEL!"

With "Speed rock, range indie, and power rap".

Except that I've marked every song in any of those categories "thumbs down" when it's come up. I use Pandora for my worktime music, which is mostly Spanish guitar, modern classical, and a dash of old-time blues.

Pandora has extensive information on my musical preferences (at least while at work), but I don't hold these completely off-target ads against them.

Because I hate targeted ads.

I ignore every message from Amazon that isn't telling me something shipped, because it's always suggesting some new book that is almost something vaguely related to something I might be interested in. Like the irritating freshman who desperately wants to be your friend. "Did you see Crash of the Titans? I think you'd like it! I liked it. Let's go play Crash of the Titans!" And you're sitting in your chair going, "go away, I'm eating lunch."

Does anyone else get that feeling?

Normal ads and spam I can just ignore, but targeted ads are almost intelligent. They are very, very close to something you could imagine someone who kinda-sorta knows you saying. Unfortunately, they aren't quite there, so they're mostly just disturbing.

I've always said that a game which simulates a social situation well enough will probably hit a social variant of the uncanny valley. I think that automatic targeted ads just hit that point.

What do you think?

1 comment:

Patrick said...

I've never thought about it in precisely these terms, but I'm with you. I suspect that 80% of internet advertising isn't as effective as the media buyers think it is. This gap must be rectified, and I think the choice fallacy threaded to integrated ads would do it. Basically, you get the player to serve the ad to themselves in the process of playing the game.