Sunday, July 20, 2008

Oy Vey! Facebook's Targeted Ads Missing the Mark

I enjoy reading David Berkowitz's blog, he posted a pretty insightful and funny observation about Facebook serving him up contextual ads based on his ethnicity even though he doesn't say he's Jewish on his Facebook page.

Check out the picture of the ad, with the not so subtle "Hew Jew" greeting across the top, they sent to his Facebook page - it was posted Wednesday July 16, 2008 on his blog: InsideTheMarketers Studio

He also blogged about it on the Online Spin site the next day - the Online Spin blog might have a contact-info wall before you can read it but - you can get the gist on his blog and I think it's funnier. His observation about Facebook having some kind of secret Jewdar was hysterical.

What is Jewdar? More to the purposes of this article check out Heeb Magazine's more media-centric use of the term for yourself - see what Jewdar is all about. Both the site and the term are getting more and more media mention, potential permanent part of our sub-culture?

Could be, it's pretty sharp. I occasionally check out the dialog that goes down on sites like and Jewdar has a much more interesting contemporary Jewish perspective.

It goes without saying that advertisers and marketers struggle with executing ideas that connect with and engage specific audiences. Behavioral online advertising will inevitably stumble on the same cracks.

During the week of July 7th Berkowitz also blogged about how female Facebook users are being annoyed by targeted ads making assumptions about their weight, relationship status and their product marketing choices. Funny when they THINK they know you.

It's like a technological version of the same process people use to peg total strangers and tuck them into the little drawers divided on lines of culture, sex, race or religion.


David Berkowitz said...

I love your illustrative photo and the analysis of Jewdar. While I know I wasn't coining the term, I'm not sure I'd ever heard it used before and I'd definitely never thought about it from a broader cultural or sociological perspective. Thanks for helping me see this all in a new light.

CG said...

Thanks David, your observations about how some of the targeted ads affect people emotionally struck a chord with me.

The ads you cited brought to mind some of the unpredictable implications of behavioral targeting, that hadn't occurred to me - because in part I'm usually looking at BT from more of a media-publishing perspective.

I look at things in the media or news and try to think about why they make me feel a certain way from a cultural perspective - it made me wonder how people, who are being served ads that target them in a cultural or religious way, feel about it.

From the response you got, doesn't seem like the marketer responsible was losing sleep over the implications of the ad so much as how it might nudge his metrics. Interesting blogs.

And yeah, I know this doctor in the city, early 50's, Jewish liberal. Really nice. Anyway she told me she went to this wedding and afterwards discussed with another Jewish friend about whether their "Jewdar" had gone off on this one guy they thought MIGHT be Jewish but they weren't sure - it was really funny; I'd never heard of people talking about having Jewdar.

I like the idea of being able to look at cultural things and have a real dialog about them. Too often our society puts issues that make us squirm up on shelves where it's hard to reach them. The Heeb Magazine perspective seems to promote dialog and I think that's important.