What have you bought that was the result of online marketing?

What have you bought that was the result of online marketing?

Summary: I've started asking this question but I'm not getting any answers...

TOPICS: Amazon

I've recently been asking people a simple question at parties: "What have you bought lately that was marketed to you online that you probably wouldn't have bought anyway, like a favorite brand of jeans, etc.?"

People smile, some of them giggle at the question, but none have managed to give me an answer.

It has been a very small number of people so far, that I've asked this question, so I'm not claiming any statistical evidence that the emperor of big data in advertising is wearing no clothes but I'm curious to see the evidence of the emperor's claims.

You would think that the enormous amounts of behavioral data, and personal interests and connections that are accumulated on individuals  by commercial entities, from Google to Procter and Gamble, we would see the results of all that knowledge in the form of an increase in our spending on things we didn't know we wanted.

Yet I can't think of anything that I've bought that was marketed to me online and that fits that description. I buy the clothing brands I always buy because I know they fit me; I buy the same brand of computers, phones that I have for years. I buy the same food in the supermarkets, the same beer, the same everything.

The only times I might wander off and try something new it's when I'm in a store and something catches my eye because it's novel and I haven't seen or heard of it before. But for the life of me, I cannot recall anything that I've gone out and bought because it was marketed to me online. Is that true for others?

Sell me something…

I'm disappointed that marketers are unable to create markets and cause me to buy new products and have new consumer experiences. It was fun anticipating something new, fantasizing how it might enrich my life in some mythical way. But there's nothing out there that I've seen marketed to me online that I've felt the need to want.

Am I alone?

Disruptive technologies…

There's a massive amount of investment into supposedly sophisticated ad networks and advertising technologies, and marketing technologies, inbound, outbound; public relations, earned media, owned and bought media. All designed to improve the sales of products and services. Big data, contextual data, personalized marketing, and more…

Surely I should be seeing the result of these improvements in the technologies of marketing? The disruption must be immense given all that's been written and said about these matters over the past few years.

The end result should be that I'm spending money on products and services that I didn't know I needed but the algorithms knew that I did. But I'm not.

I'm still waiting. I've put aside $500. It's yours — you algorithmic gods of consumer consumption — bring me your best, best suited, best targeted products and services so that I can give you my money.

I suspect the emperor is a skimpy dresser if not an outright nudist. That people are creatures of habit and buy mostly the same products and services regardless of online marketing.

And that many will insist the emperor wears the finest silks and ermine because it puts food on their tables. 

Topic: Amazon

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  • LeapMotion

    For sure. If i'd have seen it in a store, probably wouldn't have bought it. But the online marketing and demos sold me and I pre-ordered.
  • No one wants to tell the Emperor he has no clothes...

    Just as billboard advertisers are not exactly shouting from the rooftops the performance figures for their scenery-destroying and annoying roadside abominations, I believe that online marketing has a pathetically small return (ie, click-throughs) on an advertiser's dollars.

    Just like most of us would be hard-pressed to tell someone that they had seen any particular billboard on the drive to work this morning, I believe most online advertising is ignored by the VAST OVERWHELMING majority of web surfers.

    I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have clicked on a web page ad, and even fewer times when that click resulted in any interest in the product or service offered. About the best an advertiser can hope for is increased brand awareness, a nebulous concept that is probably very difficult to quantify, and even more difficult to rate as effective.

    Anyone who tells us that web surfers WANT to be shown targeted ads is shoveling us a pile, and we should recognize that they have a dollar stake in making such statements.
  • i couldnt really say for sure but but not much

    Definitely more than I have bought from phone marketing and direct mail marketing so be sure to eliminate those completely. TV marketing, not much if any... kill it, its not working.

    I can tell you this, if you pop up an add in front of my desired web page and I can't immediately dismiss it ... poof im gone. Messing with pages vertically attempting to get me to click where I don't want to causes an immediate exit. Mouseover popups are another invitation for leaving your page. Flashing gifs... bang your dead.

    If you respect me I will be more inclined to glance your way... otherwise your dead to me.
    Hope that helps.
  • Advertising is the next big bubble

    Seriously, think about how much money companies are spending on TV spots and huge faux-viral campaigns these days, then think about just how incredibly effective the human mind has become at tuning out and ignoring ads. Did you even notice what the ad on the right side of this page was selling you while you were reading this article and scrolling down here? Do TV and radio ads even register anymore? Do any of these ads even actually tell you a single thing about the product they're selling or do they just play happy music in the background and mention the brand name a lot in the hopes of building some sort of subliminal association with their product? How much money and manhours are wasted heaping this garbage down our throats?

    I've got a new idea for a grassroots campaign: next time you meet somebody and they mention they work in marketing, instinctively punch them in the face as hard as you can for degrading the human experience. Marketers are scum, and with any luck will soon go extinct.
    • unfortunately marketeers and lawyers have infested the human race

      Like a fungus and are very difficult if not impossible to eradicate.
  • I have often wondered this myself.

    I must confess that I have never bought something because it was marketed online. I tend to turn a blind eye to advertisements when using IE at work, and block them when using FF from home. Worse still, if the advertisement is annoying in some way -- ie: pop up, pop under, flash, distracting, interferes with the page load, etc -- I make a point of never buying the product in the vain hope that the advertiser will go out of business and I wont have to look at it anymore.

    I have made purchases online, but only of things that I already wanted or off things which I could not purchase locally. I have spoken with my friends and associates about this and their answers seem to mirror mine. Considering that we are all technicians and engineers, I think that the results -- while only anecdotal -- are telling.

    I would have to say that eCommerce is a success, while eMarketing is a failure.

    Of course the ads keep the websites free, so don't tell the marketing drones :-)

    • Similar experiences here...

      when doing research to help with friends and family computers, you can do quite a bit of searching, such as memory upgrades, hard drive replacements...seems most browsers have long memory cookies, every now and again I'll see an ad for memory or hard drives come out of nowhere. Since I've already made the necessary purchases about a year ago, I'm not still in the buying mood for more!
    • "eCommerce is a success, while eMarketing is a failure"

      I can not remember any online ad that motivated me to buy a product. At best the ads promote "brand awareness" - whatever that is.

      I agree with your statement. eCommerce and product research are easy to do on the web but marketing, not so much. The problem is capturing a surfer's attention with the ad without alienating them - not an easy task.
  • I used to be a serious customer of a firm, but...

    I used to be a serious customer of a firm, but then they started pounding me with online advertizing, because their marketing consultant told them this was a "good idea". I dropped them like a rock, and informed the president who I knew I would never shop with them again, or recommend them. From what I know they have a new marketing consultant now.
  • e-mail marketing

    I won't tell you what it was I bought, exactly, but I will say that they didn't make it any bigger than it already was.
  • I am a Human Being not an Algorithm

    The fundamental error of online marketers is to assume my online habits reflect my off line buying habits. Take Proctor and Gamble for example, Google captures a search I made; therefore P & G issues a coupon for Bounce and Tide, the problem is I only buy cheaper generic store brands .
    This happens all the time, advertising for products I will not use, for example ads for processed foods when I eat fresh or natural made for scratch, ads for main brands when I only shop generic or Trader Joes, ads for dolls because I wanted to know how much doll I saw at a G-sale is worth on EBay, and even gay dating sites because my avatar is a anthropomorphic bear.
    • Over targeting

      You are on to something, I believe. Often one's searches have little to do with one's predominate buying habits. I would suspect most people will search a product they normally do not normally buy which is often a special purchase or a gift for someone.
  • Our biggest problem...

    is that we have allowed our country to become polluted with advertising messages EVERYWHERE you look. And we accept this 'visual pollution' all too willingly, because if we don't, we get labeled as 'anti-business' and 'job killers'.

    Take the 'fast signs' places...Their patrons seem to think they have the right to put their new signs on any piece of property they can find even though they haven't asked for permission. I want to pull up every one I see and dump them in the front yard of the fast sign shop owner.
  • The only ads I've ever clicked on...

    ...online were by accident. I've never seen an online ad and thought "oh, I want/need that!" unless I had already decided I wanted/needed that. The same goes for TV, radio, print, junk mail, and any other type of advertising you can think of. Perhaps I'm in the minority, because obviously some of this stuff works, but honestly, I think marketing is only successful against the weak-minded.

    That said, I'm sure a professional researcher could show me 1,000 ways advertising has made me buy something.

    Of course, any media that makes you aware of something could be considered advertising, it's how we find out about the latest products and services. So some of this stuff does work. Somehow.
  • While my answer is probably nothing

    Advertising in general clearly influence users. Online advertising while less intrusive in most cases, can be better targeted.
    I'm sure from millions ads, consumers just pay attention to a tiny percentage, but the numbers are so huge that a small chunk of a huge thing is big.
    Let's take the case of spam, people doing it are not morons (in a way they are - please understand my point), we might wonder who is reading spam and who is buying penis enlargement pills that in 99.99% of the cases are fake? I can only guess, but it must be big.

    Advertising it's very old, something must be done right, even if our perception seems very different from reality.
  • We're not really the target market.

    "What have you bought lately that was marketed to you online that you probably wouldn't have bought anyway, like a favorite brand of jeans, etc.?"

    Nothing, really. I usually ignore ads.

    But then again - I'm not the target market. Online ads are mostly aimed at people who are compulsive shoppers, I think.

    "I'm disappointed that marketers are unable to create markets and cause me to buy new products and have new consumer experiences."

    I'm not disappointed.

    Marketing does not "create" markets. Never has, and never will. Only inventors can create new markets. Marketing just advertises products.

    "The end result should be that I'm spending money on products and services that I didn't know I needed but the algorithms knew that I did."

    If you didn't know you needed it - chances are, you don't need it. Period, case closed. It would be irrational and illogical to think you needed something out there If you're currently living without it.

    The dictionary definition of "need" is that you can live without it. Which, by definition, you are currently doing so. Therefore, anything currently being advertised to you is, by definition, a want and not a need.
  • Nothing comes to mind

    Other then the super bowl commercials, which I watch for their entertainment, I either avoid or ignore advertising. The same thing goes for the targeted advertising that is all to common on websites. If I decide to buy something I check locally for availability and cost. Then I check the online stores I have decided to trust and do business with, read other buyers reviews if they comment rationally, search for product reviews and check for complaints on the product or the companies that make or market the product. After researching and comparing the item or items I am interested in I; either buy locally if they are close on cost or I need it immediately or I buy it from one of the trusted website retailers. I can't remember ever clicking on an add and buying something because of the add or on an impulse.

    If I read an article about a product and think I might be interested I start the search and compare process for that item but I filter articles about products based on things I am interested in or looking for so again no impulse buying from adds. I do pay attention to the targeted adds to figure out which of my so called trusted online retailers are selling my information but so far the biggest culprit in the targeted adds thing is Google or Bling.
  • movies and games

    I find out about both by watching trailers online. Does that count?