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Thoughts

The not so exact science of figuring out what I want

— Culture & Observations —

If you haven’t noticed, it’s one big guessing game out there figuring out what people want. Of course, advertisers have no shortage of suggestions. Just this week on my way to work, I heard a radio spot by T-Mobile (on a sports radio station) that touted a plan that would give me unlimited everything, including unlimited sports scores. Other than people who are in the sports business, I really don’t know who would ever want unlimited sports scores. The number of sports scores on any given day are generally finite, so unlimited is a bit of a stretch. Just my favorite team’s scores please, thanks.

The word “unlimited” is actually only one of a list of words/phrases that advertisers throw into communications, well. just because it sounds big. You know what I’m talking about. “All this and more!” “A variety of styles!” “Too numerous to mention!” “Everything you’re looking for!” “The widest selection!” I’m certainly guilty of writing more than a few spots that sell “choices” and “options.” It’s as if I’m going to run to a store and find what I want with a buckshot shell.

This is all especially funny considering the way the internet supposedly filters what you want based on web browsing behavior and purchasing history. We’ve gone from “and more” to “how about this?” Should be better, right? Actually no. The “this” is frequently still off.

The evidence (based on my experience):

Consider Netflix: I recently watched Ken Burns Baseball with my son on Netflix and now Netflix thinks I want to watch every baseball movie they have available. An entire row on my home page is wasted on baseball movies. No thanks.

And Amazon is always telling me what I want. I frequently search for camera lenses on Amazon, or more specifically Olympus lenses. Yet I get emails from them touting great deals on Nikon lenses. How exact is this science?

Some companies may know what I’m interested in, yet they haven’t even figured out how to decipher what sex I am. Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, The Gap, and Fossil frequently send me e-mails about great deals. How about a dress. A pink purse? How about a girly watch? A pants suit? Hello, people, I’m a guy.

It’s only a matter of time before some site puts together the fact that I like rock and roll and baseball and suggest I buy John Fogerty’s Centerfield. I’ll pass.

 

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