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Online Advertising: My Spending Conscience.

“There it is, like an empty Dominos box in the recycling bin, reminding you that your clean-living-January hasn’t quite gone to plan.”


Online shopping is the way to go

Since turning 30 the allure of ‘going shopping’ has been in sharp decline. I love asking respondents what it is they enjoy about this ‘hobby’ they keep mentioning as part of their introduction. In my mind wondering: is it the crowds they like? The ambling tourists walking three abreast without goal or purpose (shopping is a contact sport, don’t you know?) Or perhaps the rude shop assistants? Or maybe they actually like battling public transport with bags and bags of purchases?

Don’t get me wrong – I love buying stuff. I fall into every consumer trap of packaging, branding, hype, exclusivity. But I indulge in private. Online. Not quite as much as the lady in flat 3 who has a daily Amazon delivery (sometimes twice – no judging..., just curious). But you see, you can buy anything online. And you can get exactly the one you want – no limiting yourself to what’s in store. Plus you can look for the cheapest. And you can get it the very next day when it arrives all wrapped up in a box. Like a Christmas present: The thrill of buying something new all over again! With one-click buying its like you didn’t even spend any money – you don’t even need to touch your wallet!

It was therefore no surprise to me that shoppers with an Amazon Prime membership spend twice as much on Amazon as those who don’t. “I could have told you that” I thought, referencing me, my sample of one. (Correction: me, my fiancée, and the lady in the flat upstairs equals a not-much-better sample of three).

If needs must

Last week I did indulge in store however. It was a very unpleasant experience of trekking to John Lewis, then Argos, then a second Argos two metro stops away (I was in Newcastle). But sometimes you need to have something NOW. My Nutribullet Pro fell into this category. (No regrets, having a Nutribullet instead of a £14 Malmaison breakfast for three days and its nearly paid for itself… right?).

But then I got home and went on a superfood binge. All online of course. I bought Hemp Seeds. And Chia Seed. And Goji Berries… “I’m going to be so healthy” I thought, “perhaps this really IS only my quarter life crisis!”

Adverts: the unnecessary reminder of past sins

But since then I’ve been HOUNDED by online advertising. For seeds, and more seeds, and NutriBullets, and dried goji berries for good measure. Whenever I go online I’m reminded of my irresponsible spending binge. (No one needs that many seeds). I log in to Facebook and there it is, like an empty Dominos box in the recycling bin reminding you that your clean-living-January hasn’t quite gone to plan.

Advertisers, you need to be more clever about it. Please!

It has served as a stark indicator that online advertising has a long way to go. Rather than lure me in or entice me to buy more, it has simply told me what I already know – I’ve bought too many seeds. It simply heightens feelings of guilt… Instead of kittens and babies, I’m fed a constant reminder that my spending should probably be reigned in. A flashing banner taps at my shoulder reminding me that I’ve bought too many seeds. And when these feelings fade, they are only replaced by the very real reminder that they are watching me. They know my every move. My every desire. (Or rather, what my desires were… I’ve moved on to booking my honeymoon, thank you very much).

It’s 2015… can advertising not be more subtle, intuitive and pre-emptive. So it knows I searched for NutriBullet recipes, perhaps start advertising seeds before I’ve actually bought them. Or I’ve bought tickets to Canada. I’ve done that now so stop with the flight sales already. Rather show me ‘things to do in Vancouver’ or ‘places to stay’. Telling me that I’ve probably spent too much on my flight is not the way to make me like you interwebs. And I very much want to like you!

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