Category Archives: Advertising

What Do Internet Tracking Companies Know About You?

The FTC is recommending a universal “Do Not Track” option online that would give consumers the ability to opt-out of third-party online tracking for advertising purposes. As marketers we certainly understand the value of customer and prospect behavior, but when do we draw that line on privacy as consumers?

After I heard the news about the FTC’s “Do Not Track” recommendation, I wanted to find out just how much information these third-party companies are tracking about me. I found a good article on NPR, “Tracking the Companies that Track You Online”.

NPR selected a 26-year-old female, and with the help of the Wall Street Journal and third-party tracking companies determined that third-party tracking companies knew about her favorite movies, age, hometown, that she liked quizzes and entertainment news.

Another article I found on Wall Street Journal stated over time, these third-party companies will start to predict other information about you based on your interests, including your marital status and creditworthiness.

Certainly I realize that Google knows my hometown because I can tell that when I conduct Google searches. Or on Facebook, I’m not surprised when I see boating ads because I listed boating as a hobby in my profile. But for these third-party companies to know my likes and dislikes and start making predictions about me is a bit invasive and I do think some industry regulation is necessary to protect consumers.

To take this a step further, these third-party tracking companies are also tracking our youngsters, who are heavily influenced by advertising.

So what do you think? Where should online tracking stop? Is the industry doing a good job of self-regulating? Or does the government need to step in?


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Black Friday Sales “Leaked”

Black Friday, the day that most retailers begin operating in the “black”, is      almost a week away. We all know that on Black Friday retailers are known for slashing prices on popular gift giving items (electronics, toys, etc.) to get shoppers up at the crack of dawn and into their stores.

But what is killing me this year is media is claiming that major retailers like Walmart, Sears, Target and Sams Club Black Friday sales have been “leaked” on popular Black Friday websites. Come on… first of all is this really “news”? And secondly, how are the sales being “leaked” if on my way out of Costco last weekend, the sales associated handed me the Black Friday circular.

On a more positive note, you don’t have to wait for the newspaper to arrive on Thanksgiving morning to start planning your Black Friday shopping marathon. Head to the Internet to sites like or or or or

Happy Black Friday shopping!

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Digital License Plate Ads

The state of California is considering digital license plates featuring advertising to reduce the state’s $19 billion deficit.  I have mixed feelings about this approach as a consumer and as a marketer.

As a consumer, we are bombarded with advertising everyday.  From billboards, to emails, online advertising, pizza boxes, direct mail, event sponsors, Facebook and shopping carts at the grocery store.  Do we really need one more way for marketers to target us?

Also, what about the safety issue?  While cities across the country are banning cell phone use while driving, California wants to introduce one more driving distraction.

Finally, if I’m going to have advertising on my car, I want some type of compensation, and the ability to approve or decline certain ads.  I’m sure a soccer mom isn’t going to want a Trojan ad on her license plate.

As a marketer, one more opportunity to target a consumer is always welcome.  In fact, we have more tools in our toolbox than ever before, which makes our job exciting and complicated at the same time. While digital license plate ads wouldn’t enable you to target a specific demographic (unless the advertising was sold by region), it would provide similar benefits as billboard advertising.

Regardless of whether you look at this from a consumer or marketer’s standpoint, one thing is for certain… California has a lot to sort out before this digital license plate ad concept could become a reality.

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Kmart Ads Land in Glamour Magazine

I was flipping through the March issue of Glamour earlier this week and was completely shocked to see a series of ads for Kmart’s fashion line.  We have all grown accustom to and accepted Target in the fashion industry.  Their unique hook is landing big designer names such as Jean Paul Gaultie, but Kmart? After doing a quick search online, apparently this isn’t the first time Kmart is appearing in the fashion magazines.

However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  During this recession and even now, consumers are still very frugal and looking for ways to save money.  From my perspective, Kmart has a short window of opportunity to really gain market share in the clothing industry. But from what I can see, they aren’t doing anything unique that will bring in the fashionistas.

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Like It or Not Christmas Is Here!

The day after Halloween, I started seeing Walmart and Kohl’s holiday television ads. Pottery Barn already distributed its 1st holiday catalog, Target featured a toy guide in Sunday’s paper, Santa is already appearing in the malls, and just this week I started seeing direct response televisions ads for holiday music CDs.  It is like we skipped Thanksgiving and went straight to the holiday season.

I completely understand why retailers are starting the holiday season advertising and marketing sooner, and it is apparently working because I’m already feeling like I’m behind with my holiday travel plans, holiday cards and holiday shopping.  And I don’t think I’m the only one because the city of Wilmington put up its holiday decorations downtown last week and my sister has already been bugging me for gift ideas!

Personally, I think we as consumers need to take a stand.  If we don’t, Christmas in July will soon be a reality!  Join the “It’s Too Early for Christmas” Facebook group and take a stand


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Kraft Wants Consumers to Pay for Its Advertising

For probably at least four years now, I have been getting Kraft Food & Family magazine for free.  It is a quarter magazine that includes great seasonal recipes for appetizers, meals, snacks and dessert.  Of course, all the recipes feature at least one Kraft product and there are also full-page ads for Kraft products.   1253055369-000f8cd4medium

I have to admit that it was more useful to me as I began cooking more because the recipes use a lot of shortcuts.  Nonetheless, I always read the magazine and usually take away a few recipe tips (for example, cooking quesadillas on the grill).

Just this past week, I received my last free Kraft Food & Family magazine.  I was shocked when I saw it was my last issue and assumed the publication was going electronic.  To my surprise, there was a bill included for $6.99 to continue to receive the magazine.  What?  Kraft wants me to pay for their advertising!  I was shocked and threw away the bill.

While I read the magazine and $6.99 is minimal (it probably covers the cost of shipping), I refuse to pay for Kraft to market to me.  I guess from Kraft’s perspective, they can reduce their printing and shipping costs by only sending consumers the magazine who truly want to read it and eliminating those who simply toss the magazine in the trash.  Of course there is an assumption here that only consumers willing to pay $6.99 see the magazine as worthwhile.

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