Adding personal touches to your website can be nice. Remembering a visitor’s name can make them feel special and offering tailored ads (though some people don’t like the feeling of being tracked) means the ads are more likely to resonate with the visitor. The kicker is you have to make sure your targeting efforts are working correctly. Case in point, Pandora’s ads are regionally targeted. This is helpful in a lot of ways, but only if Pandora has correctly targeted you.
Though Pandora has user profiles, you don’t have to fill them out to any meaningful degree – and they certainly don’t ask you where you live. But they’re tracking you somehow and offering listeners regional ads. The problem is, they don’t always get the right region. Take a look at this ad I was recently served:
It’s a good cause, maybe even something I, as a Pandora listener, would be moved to call my representative about. The problem? Michael Burgess isn’t my representative. In fact, I live half a country away from Michal Burgess’ district.
Pandora isn’t totally off. I did grow up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (where Mr. Burgess is). But I’ve spent my entire adult life living in the northeast, first in central New York state, and more recently in the Boston area. I’m not sure how Pandora is pulling their demographic information, but it’s clearly not from IP addresses. My guess is they’re going by generic online profiling, which in my case thinks I’m a male, maybe in my 20s, who lives somewhere in Texas. The only thing they got right is my age range, sort of.
I actually like getting all the DFW ads, it reminds me of home. But I’m wasted ad dollars because I’m never going to respond. The moral of this story is if you’re going to rely on visitor targeting for any part of your website – be it ads, deals, content, whatever – make sure your targeting methods are reliable.