Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond
Send your nonfictional open letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Open Letter to Targeted Online Advertisers.
Dear Targeted Online Advertisers,
I hesitate to write this, because honestly, much of what you do for me is still spot-on. Sometimes, when I go to read my ‘recommended’ articles on the Washington Post online and I see a sidebar ad showing the exact model and color Mazda CX-5 I have been salivating over during the last several months, I feel so unconditionally loved and understood that it brings tears to my eyes. In those moments, it still seems as though you know me better than I know myself.
But lately I’ve noticed a growing disconnect between the types of purchases I’m interested in making, and the ads you’ve been showing me based on the sites I visit, and the key-words you’ve pulled from the text of my personal emails. In short, despite the ample evidence I give you every day of my particular taste in clothes, music, kitchen appliances and pornography, much of your online advertising is not nearly targeted enough.
To give just one example, there’s this pair of red leather clogs that I’ve been coveting on DSW’s website for ages.
But I am beginning to forget what they even look like because lately when I’m clicking through my aggregate news sites and blogs, I barely ever see any advertisements for them bordering the pages of the articles I read. It’s like you’re not even interested in reminding me of these clogs’ existence! Am I supposed to remember that I wanted to buy them on my own?
I’m frankly alarmed by how lax your omnipresent monitoring of my web activity has been lately. Have my browsing habits begun to bore you? Are my online purchases no longer worth tracking? Are you even watching my every move these days?
We used to be so much in tune! What happened to us? Was it something I googled?
In my darker moments I suspect that I am experiencing the same exact web content that hundreds of thousands of other ordinary internet users see as they surf, instead of a rarefied wonderland of carefully curated advertisements meant for my eyes only. Or do you really have me pegged as a mouth-breathing acai berry worshiper, constantly on the lookout for lower car insurance rates and believing there really is 1 weird old trick for burning belly fat? Do you even know me anymore?
Of course, I know that I’m at least partially at fault here. It’s been slow at work these last few months, and my discretionary income isn’t what it once was. Now I buy used books from Amazon instead of new. I’m aware that there’s been a sweet Dyson vacuum languishing in my Overstock.com shopping cart for an embarrassingly long length of time. And it’s been maybe six months since I’ve googled phrases like “tickets to Iceland” or “gucci handbag.” But really, is that all it takes for you to decide that my eye movements and clicks are no longer worth your attention? Are you such fair-weather online targeted advertising friends that if I’m not constantly searching for Roberto Cavalli jeans, I’m nothing to you?
I think I deserve another chance. I’m almost due for a new bed and I’m leaning toward a Tempur-pedic—but I’ll really only consider it if I start seeing sidebar ads extolling the virtues of Memory Foam every time I check the weather online. It could be just like old times! For God’s sake, show me that I mean at least that much to you.
SUGGESTED READSThe Love Story of Our Time, Part One
by Toph Eggers (12/18/1998)
Letters Found on Computers at an Internet Café in Bangkok
by John Bowe (2/3/2000)
The Love Story of Our Time, Part Two
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