How do you say “bad marketing” in French?

Razor1I don’t claim to be the savviest marketer in the world, but as a consumer, I do know what annoys me – and generally it falls in the category of being mis-targeted. I can forgive traditional media for its transgressions by showing me commercials that aren’t meant for me (hey, we’ve all mistakenly watched a full year of Grey’s Anatomy before, right guys?). But when online ads are blowing it, I blow my lid.

With all of the information that I am giving away through my email account – where I received this electric razor ad (click here to read my article on Google reading your mail) – How is it, in this era of enhanced targeting and data capture that I could possibly receive a display ad in French? Is it because I’m Canadian?

For those who aren’t aware, Canada is bilingual, so French is on everything. I remember 25 years ago when growing up in Canada I had a McDonald’s t-shirt featuring the lovable, purple, milkshake-addicted Grimace. Only on my shirt, his name wasn’t Grimace, it was Le Grosse Douceur. Even my favorite cereal, Rice Krispies, had French on it. The boxes weren’t always adorned by Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Sometimes they were replaced by an exuberant trio of elves called Cric! Crac! and Croc! 25 years ago we were used to seeing French stuff on things.

But this isn’t 1984. This is 2009, and I don’t want to see French anymore. And the fact that I no longer live in Canada makes this online ad even worse. So if I were the good folks at Remmington or whoever created this display ad, I’d ask for an explanation from my media agency. Especially if they’re being charged by CPM. Because if I don’t understand it, I’m not going to buy it.

Obviously I’m not the only one who is put off by bad targeting. This is a funny post about Facebook’s Ad Fail.

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Google is reading your mail

gmail eyesScores of people use Gmail as their free web-based email provider, myself included. But I’m not sure how many people actually realize that Google is scanning your email content (not just subject lines) to serve up relevant ads in the form of Sponsored Links.

Go ahead and check it out. If you look down the right hand side of your emails and you’ll see ads pertaining to the content of your email.

How do you feel about that? Do you care?

For me, it’s ironic, because I use my work email for work-related communications only, but use a web-based email provider for personal communications (like, to complain about work), because I’m assuming it’s private.

But it isn’t. Someone is watching.

To make us feel better, Google says that no humans will read the content of your email in order to target such advertisements or related information. It’s all an automated process.

But isn’t Google in the information gathering business? And doesn’t Google become more valuable the more it learns? It may seem pretty benign now, but who’s to say a few years from now, every email you send won’t be dropped into a giant database all about you and your online activity, which helps Google know more about you, and therefore assist advertisers in targeting you more accurately.

Does it now make you think twice about sending that off-color joke to a friend, or that topless picture of the celeb-du-jour to your pals? Or do you care?

I wonder what it’s like to apply for a job at Google. Do they call references, or do they just pull your IP address and the Sponsored Link history for your Gmail account? If that’s the case, I think I’m going back to snail mail.

Anyone know where I can buy some stamps?