In 2015 I was sitting in a coffee shop in Affton talking with a friend of mine.  I told him that I was convinced that my phone was spying on me.  The reason I said this was that it seemed like whenever I thought of something, an ad for it would pop up on my phone.  I thought it was kind of creepy.  He told me that he’d seen the same thing and that he’d heard that at one time a group of people were sitting in an office and they picked a random word, “couch”.  Three of the four people later had ads for couches show up on their phone. Are you seeing online ads relevant to you in 2019?

Online Ads And Data Collection

We really don’t know who or what hardware and software companies are doing.  We do know that some companies have been sued for collecting copious amounts of data.  It seems like it would be common sense that when you allow voice activated equipment in your home, that information will be picked up by something.  And, I suppose the main argument for data gathering on this scale is that the loss of privacy is ok because the products are designed to make your lives better.  When I wrote a blog about asking Siri for the value of your home, that wasn’t a joke.  Well, the joke was that the information you got would be wrong, but you could get an answer anyway.

Has A Change Occurred In Online Ad Targeting?

While I was pretty amazed by online ad relevance in 2015, that isn’t what I’m currently seeing in 2019.  This makes me wonder if the algorithms have changed, or if I’m giving some type of incorrect information that is causing my browser and social media ads to be thrown off.  Here are some examples.

Instagram And The Guinea Pig

Do you know what a Guinea Pig is?  When you were a kid, maybe you had one, or in my case, 5.  On my Instagram feed, I tend to like pictures of cars, boats, hotels, houses, and architecture.  For some reason, the last 3 months, every other picture seems to be of Guinea Pigs.  Seriously, I’m 40 years old, haven’t seen and don’t know anyone with a Guinea Pig, but my feed is filled with them.  What’s the link between me and Guinea Pigs?  The same algorithm that knows I love cars seems to think that I must then also like Guinea Pigs?

Facebook And Houses For Sale

I am a real estate broker in St. Louis, MO.  I know when every house hits the market.  It’s part of my job.  Somehow, Facebook makes the correlation that because I am a real estate broker, I’d be a perfect candidate for real estate ads.  I get ads for agent recruitment; I get ads for homes for sale in St. Louis.  Those aren’t all that relevant to me.  I used to get a ton of ads related to real estate programs and software as a service, but I haven’t seen many of those in a long time.

The Company Designed Solely To Advertise Listings On Facebook

One of the more concerning things I’ve seen is a particular company that touts itself as one that targets prospective home buyers for agents.  I know that their product is expensive, and I know they’ve had a hard time getting agents and brokerages to sign up for it here in St. Louis.  To get around that issue, they are sending home listing ads from agents as far away as Eastern Illinois and Indiana.  One real estate brokerage in St. Louis either got one heck of a discount or they don’t know how badly the product is failing, because they are the only ones using it, and it is definitely not an exclusive product.

Why Does Online Ad Relevance Matter?

It’s pretty simple:  If you have an online ad company that can predict who would view your ad in the best possible light, which would be quite valuable.  Any marketer would be happy to shell out big bucks to be in front of their target audience.  Here’s the problem.  I don’t think the online ads are as relevant as they’ve been in the past, but the expense of running those ads is going up.  Because I’m happy to market to people interested in our real estate brokerage, this issue of not being able to advertise to a target market is an issue.  Currently, we’ve cut our advertising budget because of this.

Have any of you online marketers seen the same thing?  Either the ads you see aren’t relevant or the content you get from algorithms doesn’t actually match up to your likes?  I’d be interested in what you’ve experienced.  Drop me a comment below.