A day after pricing a numeric pad addition for my iMac keyboard, I got the following screen.  I was at once shocked, amazed and delighted.  As well as scared.

Talk about target marketing.  This was pin point targeting.  Delivering the ads (notice there are two of them) to someone who had been shopping for the very item on Amazon only a day before.

The ability to market the exact product to the exact customer can offer a tremendous advantage.  experts say it increases the effectiveness of the advertising more than ten times.  No surprise because untargetted advertising spills to a majority of people who are not potential buyers, they just share demography.

However, what this particular approach lacked was a motivator. It reminded me about my search and interest, but didn’t give me a reason or incentive to move forward and make the purchase.

The ability to pin point customers and know precisely what they are interested in purchasing can be a powerful tool, if wielded well.  It is a far cry from broadcasting to a wide group and hoping, using demographics, that you reach an interested buyer.  And this buy required knowing where I was and feeding the ads through a Scrabble game I was playing with a friend on the West Coast.

But the connecting of the buyer and the product is only part of the equation.  Whoever said, if you build it they will come was wrong — as many a retailer knows.  True you need the product that the market wants but you also have to let them know you have it and pin point marketing does that in spades.

However, there is a sinister sister to this type of marketing.  In an age when data gets into the wrong hands often enough, buyers may be spooked from purchasing because they feel their privacy has been invaded.  This week, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner found some ads for medical devices through Google had crossed this line.  There  have been other examples as well.

As to where the line is crossed – well that is hard to say.  Clearly use of unauthorized private information to is not acceptable.  But use of browsing patterns and demography seems like fair play.

In my case, Amazon was looking at the shopping cart unpurchased items to try to stimulate me to purchase.

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