Amazon’s Failure at Targeted Advertising


Let’s talk about companies that squander targeted advertising opportunities.

Amazon has the perfect opportunity to serve amazingly targeted ads directly to me, on a device I use at least twice a day. I’ve owned every generation of the Kindle since the original launch, working my way to the $79 Kindle Wi-Fi with Special Offers, the absolute best Kindle device thus far1.

Not only do I use a Kindle every day and buy into Amazon’s ebook ecosystem, I’m also an enthusiastic Prime member. Despite a general mistrust of their business practices, the ease, availability, and convenience of Amazon’s free 2-day shipping makes me a regular consumer. I also take full advantage of their wishlist features, creating multiple lists with helpful names. I even use Prime Instant Video every once in a while.

With all of this personal information, which I have voluntarily given to Amazon, why do they continue to serve me ads that are completely irrelevant to my needs? If Target knows when people are pregnant before they know themselves, and adjust their snail-mail advertising accordingly, why can’t Amazon get it right?

This is especially egregious given that I specifically purchased a device that serves ads. I could have spent another $30 and received the exact same unit without screensaver adverts, but I volunteered to subsidize the cost of the device with advertising. I even saw (see?) value in receiving a daily reminder about items I may need. Amazon, however, chooses  to display an image baby bending over when I put my device to sleep.

The Kindle should be filled with targeted, relevant, impulse purchases. How about some big text asking if I’m low on toilet paper? Why not a Amazon’s top rated coffee sampler set, targeted towards the morning subway commuters (they know I live in New York City). What about that item I added to my wishlist last week? It’s Friday and I just got paid.

Instead, my current ad rotation includes a deal for framing (despite never purchasing an image, picture, or frame), a baseball related life-sized wall graphic, and a Pampers/Swiffer ad. Besides the Swiffer wipes2, every single item is completely irrelevant to me.

Amazon, what’s the deal?

  1. I’ll save my discussion about touchscreen e-readers for another time.
  2. Those things are awesome.

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