This one’s good for a chuckle, but it also illustrates a danger that comes with behavior targeting in online advertising networks. Today I captured the below image from Macworld.com, on which I was reading an article about a recent security breach. The headline references the breached company, Trapster, and that’s enough for the targeting to kick in and serve up - guess what? - a Trapster ad. So at the very moment I am reading about how Trapster lost its customers’ private information to the hands of criminals who now will seek to exploit those customers, I am also being served an ad (at Trapster’s expense) recruiting me to join their ranks.
Let’s set aside the fact that these ads are wasted marketing dollars. Even if they were free, Trapster doesn’t want this ad to appear here. It draws unwanted attention at a time when the company wants to keep attention at a minimum, and it invites snarky commentary like this post. And even though Trapster most likely didn’t do anything wrong to cause this ad to appear (it’s a danger inherent in the system), in the eyes of someone who doesn’t understand the ins and outs of online advertising, it makes the advertiser look insensitive and ghoulish.