Help! A canvass bag is following me around the internet!

I am being followed around the internet by not one, but two canvass bags.

They come to the websites I browse and interrupt me, saying weird things like:

“I know you’ve been checking me out”


“You’ve got great taste”

Help! Canvass bags are chasing me around the internet!


In this situation the average person will realise they are being retargeted by a brand they’ve browsed previously. Many will shrug, some may even find it useful if there’s a promotion included.

But come on – just because you happen upon a product online it doesn’t mean it should follow you around until you relent and buy it. As a strategy it is often crass or creepy. I’m being shouted at. No ROI metric will pick up the aggregate annoyance.

For all the huge claims about machine learning, AI and personalisation the theory is oh so different from the practice.

Think for a moment about the combined human ingenuity involved: the proprietary platform, the terrabytes of analysed data the joint client-agency exertion. Then re-read the messaging. It stuns me that the execution of this clever strategy is so poor. It’s like tripping over your shoelaces at the 26 mile point of a marathon.

Ad targeting regularly leaves much to be desired. A gem from last week on Facebook Marketplace.

Facebook marketplace ad targeting

Let’s just say I’m not a DIY-er and am I less keen on Kingston upon Hull than my proximity would suggest. What on earth are the selection variables for this ad? ‘Male’ + ‘on sale nearby’ maybe? Wow.

But look on the bright side. If this is the extent of the platform monopolists‘ computing power we can rest easy knowing the singularity isn’t happening anytime soon.

About Simon Shaw

I'm a Director at an insight consultancy. I'm interested in marketing, market research & consumer psychology. The views expressed are not necessarily those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Consumer Psychology, Marketing Research and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Help! A canvass bag is following me around the internet!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s