Are you “attractive and intelligent”? To advertisers, that is.

September 1, 2010

Targeted advertising can at times be unsettling or annoying, as discussed in recent articles about retargeting by retailers.

I will admit to finding the ad on the left a bit unsettling, since it was targeted by Facebook to my daughter, a first-year in college. Knowing my interest in ad targeting, she dutifully captured it for me, along with the selection criteria on the advertiser’s website (elitedonors.com). I can proudly (and quite honestly) say that her fine genetic material is exactly what they are looking for, although she has declined to participate.

I’m not at all troubled by the notion of donated eggs, or even the notion that egg brokers advertise online. What I wonder about is what elements in her profile were used to target it, and how can she control them? Even though I know Facebook has promised not to share this kind of profile information with advertisers directly, that distinction may be lost on many folks who see ads like these around sensitive areas.

Better disclosure will help, as will real ad-profile control. In the mean time, ad targeting around sensitive offers like this one are bound to be unsettling for even among the most hardened ad targets. Given Facebook’s stake in the future of targeted ads, you might expect them to apply a tighter filter on eyebrow-raising targeting like this.

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