by Bruce Randall

Last week I bought a pair of pants on sale from Bloomingdales.com. Over the weekend I searched Jetblue.com for flights to LA to visit my parents. I regularly visit Americanexpress.com, as both a cardmember and a vendor. Today I went to UXmag.com to read about trends coming out of CES, and I see ads for Bloomingdale’s, Jet Blue and American Express. Stop following me!

I’ve heard that targeted marketing provides a better user experience and conversion rate. (Win/win, right?). I’ve read that in the future we’ll all welcome messages that know exactly what we want, when we want it. Yet, the reality (and it’s not just me experiencing this) is the companies we’ve engaged with are stalking us, and they’re not being smart about it. I’ve already bought the pants! I’ve already booked the tickets! If you really want to be helpful, make the banners receipts!

I find it hard to believe that the people behind the tracking technologies can’t do more to assess and deliver against real needs. Web sites have had recommendation engines for years. Why can’t a banner recommend a product based on my previous purchase? (I AM having trouble finding a belt that matches those pants.) Or offer me a deal on a car rental that I can use on my trip to Hawaii. Or at least let me opt out of being followed by the banner.

Are there privacy concerns with all of this? Sure. But I’m already concerned about privacy. (A friend told me she started getting ads for singles sites just two weeks after her divorce.) If you’re going to track me, at least be useful. If not, I can guarantee I’ll think twice before visiting your site again.

Watch this for a minute to understand my frustration. Watch it until the end to see the ONLY way I might be pacified.