Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Targeted Facebook Advertising: From "Baldies" to "Fatties"
Facebook launched itself into the hearts of Madison Ave. in November 2007 with a new scheme for targeted advertising. Essentially, this meant that data from users' profiles would be used to throw up advertisements on their sidebars that supposedly fit their wants/needs.
At first glance, I was actually impressed, or at least mildly amused, by the system. My most scintillating piece of personal information at the time was a quote from Arrested Development, where George Sr. yells at George Michael in a prison yard to "Give me your hair! Give me your hair!" because he needs a disguise. And what do you know, within a week, I had a new targeted advertisement that ran along the lines of: "Going bald? Here's what we can do..."
Having removed all hair-related references from my profile, leaving only a few references to Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Grable behind, things have changed now that I am tagged and targeted as a "Woman."
As soon as bathing suit season began to come into gear, I received ad upon ad about "losing those 15 to 30 pounds" accompanied by pictures of ostensibly "unattractive" women with non-concave stomachs, not to mention many an ad urging me to "date that special someone." The Australian blog, Dawn Chorus, has a roundup of some of these ads, the Feministing community has been discussing various manifestations of these ads for both males and females, young and old, the UK F-Word talks about subvertising these ads (with example provided above!), and Feministing discussed a few months ago how ads for Crisis Pregnancy Centers were coming up as well. I have described a pretty pernicious advertising campaign above-- but I wonder what kind of happy advertising campaign the feminist blogosphere would launch to women (and men) on Facebook. Suggestions welcome!
In more heartening news from Facebook, however, Facebook has evolved over the years in its approach to gender. First of all, it no longer requires that you designate one. There is also a very cool application that you can add to your profile that allows you to express your gender and sexual identity in your own way--be that binary, non-binary, in transition, or anything else.