Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

The Pitfalls of Automated Advertising

The problem with automated advertising is it doesn’t take context into consideration.

With the constant growth in technology, it’s perfectly understandable that we want to leverage it to simplify our personal and professional lives. Tech and advertising are a natural pairing, and as a result, there are many options out there to simplify your department’s and your clients’ strategies. Case in point: automated advertising. Automated ads are pre-made ads created with certain mediums, like social media; times of day; or locations in mind. Coupled with circumstantial data, these ads are prompted to run without you having to lift another finger. However, automated advertising can lead to some issues for your clients’ brands.

One example of automated advertising gone wrong comes from the online dating website OkCupid. The site created an automated push notification in conjunction with the user’s local weather. For instance, when their data shows that it’s raining in your area, you receive a notification from the site that says, “Hey, [your name], we noticed it’s raining tonight in [your town]. Our statistics show that more people sign in when there is bad weather. It’s the perfect time to message that special someone!”

Seems smart, right? OkCupid synthesized its metrics and discovered that more users sign in to their accounts when it’s raining, thus deducing rainy days make for potential romantic connections. The savvy company produced an ad that’s automatically sent to users when it’s raining in their area, consequently giving them a friendly reminder to sign in to their account.

The problem with automated advertising is it doesn’t take context into consideration. Our example actually comes from a user residing in Boulder, Colo., who received that exact notification. Yes, it was raining outside, however, OkCupid’s automated ad couldn’t take into consideration the fact the rain was a result of severe flooding Colorado had been experiencing since early September. The flooding led to eight fatalities and, at the time, the number of missing in the thousands.

In these moments, automated advertising appears less smart, and instead, it just looks plain inconsiderate. Most users will recognize it’s an automated ad, but that doesn’t lessen the damage done to the guilty brand’s reputation and image.

Take OkCupid’s story as a cautionary tale of automated advertising. While streamlining your strategy is undeniably appealing, you don’t want to risk your client’s brand and reputation for mere convenience.