Repetitive Server Ads Hurt Advertisers, Too.

So where are the ads I want to see?

It’s not the targeted ads that bother me! There’s so much talk about targeted/behavioral/interest-based ads. So why is it, when I’m playing a game on my iPad or phone, or watching a show On Demand, I’m served the same ad not just 6 or 7 times, but repeatedly for weeks on end? Look, I am all for seeing relevant ads. But, I don’t want to see the same ad over and over and over again, served to me by some mindless ad server filling up a block of time…which is my time. If advertisers are trying to reach us, why are we still getting ads that have no relevancy?

“Words with Friends” started to feel

like “Words with Enemies.”

I like, no actually, love playing Words with Friends. So why did I uninstall WWF?  The “attack of the babies” campaign. A Pampers commercial showing toddlers ran for several weeks, nonstop, play after play. The babies were adorable–crawling under rugs, scooting across a floor, kicking a ball. The voice over was lovely, warm and inviting.  Will I buy Pampers now or in the future? No and Never. It was just too much. And, it was not relevant to my interests. I am well past the age of bearing children, and my daughter isn’t wanting any. So, in this age of sophisticated ad targeting, why was I caught in the cross hairs of a mindless ad server on the one game I enjoy playing?
Opt in or Opt out? Results gathered from my browser by the DAA’s WebChoices Tool, from the AdChoices Program
Sure, the Pampers ad did give me an AdChoices Program* link to a tool sponsored by the Digital Advertising Alliance.  

I followed the directions that told me I should turn cookies back on my browser(s), so I could then block the commercial. It did not identify which server was serving this particular ad. So I selected all the servers. And it didn’t work. I tried using the Webblock app from the Apple App Store. I couldn’t figure out which ad server listed was responsible for serving up the  P&G commercial. So that didn’t work either. Even when I selected all of the ad servers.

The P&G site says it doesn’t run repetitive ads (check the Privacy Policy). It gave me a link to Adservr.org, which
purportedly allows me to opt out of targeted ads using my web browser. It only works for “targeted ads” and not those on mobile. It did however generate a report for me on my browsing habits on their platform. The summary was totally incorrect as to my preferences and buying habits, except for a handful of items. For example, it had me listed as owning
a Jeep, whereas I never owned or would own a Jeep. But I did buy a Buick in September (since Buicks are no longer an old person’s car and the only cool thing about Jeeps was MASH.)

I Need a PhD in IDFA

To block mobile ads, Adsrvr.org  says you need to upload a “mobile advertising identifier”, which is known as the IDFA used by Apple.  Apple says you can reset the number, and choose “Limit Ad Tracking” in your privacy settings; but it doesn’t give you the actual number. The setting also only applies to the Apple platform. And “you may still receive the same number of ads, but the ads may be less relevant to you.”

So I went to the Apple store to find an app for that.  But I won’t bother you, dear reader, with any further detail on this. Suffice it to say, somehow between Google, Safari and maybe God, I got them to stop. For now. And today I see that WWF now offers a paid subscription, as they had in the past.  The same problem occurs on “Scrabble” too. I don’t like scary, gruesome horror movies. However, after every play I was served an ad for a “Purge” movie.  

 AdNauseum, An article in TechHive, provides insight into why the constant onslaught of untargeted ads continues unabated online.  Media buying agencies buy a number of impressions, and the streaming service makes sure to deliver–more frequently if fewer viewers are present.  And then there are exchanges, too, like the stock market, where the highest bidder gets the most impressions. Apparently ad servers could stop showing blocks of the same ad, if agencies were to specify for example when to stagger the ads. So why don’t they?  Comcast Xfinity, my cable provider, lets me opt in or opt out of advertising. I’d like some more choices, though.

I wouldn’t mind filling out a short survey, as Google and some online publications and platforms offer this. I would also like to let advertisers and their agencies know that I like variety, and smart ads. But even the smartest ad (like Apple’s “Behind the Mac” ad) is like nails on a chalkboard after the N-teenth consecutive view.  If programming can vary up content, why can’t you?

*Warning: “AdChoices” is also the name of an adware or spyware program that can change your personal browser preferences and cause pop-up ads to display on your desktop. Make sure you have an ad blocker or a malware program installed.

 

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