Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Not-so-targeted demographic

I've been wondering... Do you think we all get the same ads in the banners and sidebars of the sites we all use, or are they maybe actually targeted in some way or form? I definitely hope it's the former, and not just because of the creepy Internet Big Brother implications of Sitemeter and Yahoo profiling me based on my surfing behavior and serving specific ads up in return, but also because I am simultaneously both offended and amused to imagine the sorts of reactions all the college boy bloggers likely had during that two-week period when Sitemeter really, really wanted us to know about the plus-sized lingerie at Lane Bryant. Ah, college boys. Surely almost universally a sensitive and inclusive bunch, if I remember correctly.

Anyway, I don't really want to talk about plus-sized lingerie (or any lingerie, for that matter). Know what else I don't want to do? See Breaking and Entering. I had never actually heard of that movie up until three days ago, possibly because MGM seems to have spent its entire marketing budget for the film on web ads for the DVD release. The esteemed Tomatometer gives Breaking and Entering a certifiably rotten 33% rating, but the constant barrage of sidebar ads assures me it is a well-crafted and compelling must-see drama. Really, who am I going to believe? A sidebar ad surely wouldn't lie.

Know what else banner and sidebar ads want me to do? Become a mystery shopper. But not just any mystery shopper... a sexy mystery shopper!

Personally I thought mystery shoppers were supposed to blend into a crowd, so as to be, you know, mysterious. I had no idea that ample cleavage and exposed midriffs were in fact the norm. Actually, what particularly confuses me about these ads is just to whom they're supposed to appeal. Will sexy, scantily clad women see these ads and think, "Oh, sweet! My pseudo-career options aren't limited to phone sex operator and phony mySpace profile writer! I can be a mystery shopper now, too!"? Are single men supposed to see them and think, "Huh. By virtue of the job description, I can't imagine mystery shoppers really have coworkers, but I'm sure if I sign up, I'll meet these chicks somewhere"? Really, I'm perplexed.

And it's not just mystery shoppers. Apparently sexy product testers are in high demand as well.

If you're a wholesome girl, I guess you can apply too, but your mystery shopping might be a tad less interesting or successful, as it will occur out in a wheat field somewhere. (The hills are alive, little lady. Now go buy a drill and report back.)

In other news (or rather, other portions of my online accounts that I can exploit in lieu of a proper and legitimate post), I would like to know why Yahoo's pool of spammers seems so convinced that I want to "mingle with other Latino singles." I suppose it's not such a stretch to suspect they might have monitored a bit of my browsing activity and figured out that I'm a single girl. But to assume that I am a "Sexy Single Latino"? I'm not sure from whence that idea came. I'm equally confused as to why they might guess I'm a Hot Black Mama (I can't wait to see the search engine hits I get from typing that out), but that one showed up only once that I recall. And frankly, it's not nearly as worrisome as the repeated messages urging me to meet other "Big Beautiful Singles" in my area. I may have put on a few extra pounds in the past year by virtue of my ever-slowing 30-something metabolism, but I'd like to think it's a stretch to put me in the "Big and Beautiful" category just yet.


Red said...

Mine are always for dating sites. I think my mom may have a side job doing pop-up ads.

Paisley said...

That is hilarious. I've only seen the ads for mystery shoppers in the newspaper. Zoinks!

Today I talked to a Qwest guy that had a dry sense of humor and was pretty nice. He's in St. Paul. I thought of you...


whiskeymarie said...

I get the mystery shopper things too. I have yet to figure out why.
I shop. It's no mystery.

I get the "sexy singles" stuff as well, and I've been married for 10 years.

But not the "sexy single Latino" stuff. Perhaps you have missed something in your genealogy. Your great-uncle Pedro, perhaps?

NancyPearlWannabe said...

I always thought mystery shoppers would be the opposite of sexy. You know, like the people that refuse to ever leave the house to do actual shopping.

3carnations said...

I actually dabbled in mystery shopping a couple years ago...Not as a career option, but for a few extra bucks. Really pretty simple, but I got tired of it. The easiest one - Order a pizza, have it delivered, fill out a ten question form. The only pay was reimbursement for the pizza, but hey, free dinner for 10 minutes of my time? Not bad. Some of them paid you for what you bought, and maybe $10 extra.

I was not a sexy mystery shopper. I was usually a frazzled looking mystery shopper carrying an infant. They didn't send any pictures of someone meeting that description?

Noelle said...

I get really creeped out by the gmail ads that correspond to the topics in my email. I knew someone who was a mystery shopper busting counterfeits in Chinatown. That seemed really exciting, until he got burned and everyone hid when they saw him anywhere on Canal Street.

Darren McLikeshimself said...

I'm frequently encouraged to meet sexy singles in my area. The people who produce these ads have obviously never been to my area.

lizgwiz said...

I get the Latina one sometimes, too. Obviously they have never SEEN me, since my pasty whiteness would certainly enlighten them on that score.

stefanie said...

Red--If my mom were writing ads for dating sites, those ads would be very different from the ones I see. (They would, for example, encourage me to find a nice Catholic boy instead of shirtless one with "come hither" eyes.)

Paisley--Aw, did you give him my number? Wait. He works for Qwest. He already has it. ;-)

Whiskeymarie--As far as I know, my whole lineage is blindingly white as far back as anyone can trace, but maybe you're right on a long-lost Uncle Pedro...

NPW--That's exactly what I've always thought. I've heard it's a good source of extra money for stay-at-home moms, and I'm just guessing most (MOST! Not ALL--no offense to any moms out there...) stay-at-home moms are too busy carting kids around to even wash their hair some days, much less put on a skimpy top and prance around looking sexy. But I guess disheveled hair and baby-food-stained t-shirts don't yield as many replies to ads.

3Cs--You just sort of confirmed what I said to NPW. :-) Also, I agree--free dinner for ten minutes of your time? Excellent deal.

Noelle--I sort of hate writing to people with gmail accounts for that very reason--I don't even want to think about what ads they're serving up based on whatever I am typing.

Darren--Heh. Just wait 'til you get to LA. I'm sure the crop is better there (not that you are looking, of course).

stefanie said...

Liz--Sorry; you slipped through while I was typing. That was exactly my point. I'm about as blindingly white and Midwestern as they come. I wouldn't mind MEETING a sexy Latino ;-) but I certainly don't qualify as one myself.

-R- said...

I think that all the stock photos of women for ads are either sexy librarian or sexy ho, so that is what gets used.

Most of the spam I receive is about Microsoft Office products. I guess even my e-mail looks like a nerd.