Re-Marketing and The Internet Curiosity Gap

This will be another shorter post as despite several visits from technicians, my internet and phone services are still intermittent.

customer care

Incongrous ad placement

A big thank you to Cait Lynch for pointing me towards Zagg who supply keyboards for a range of tablets. I have not yet bought one but may well do so soon.

Firstly, a comment for you if you use “re-marketing” on-line advertising in your busines and for you at Zagg if the link in this post shows up on your radar. Since visiting the Zagg site on Monday, adds for that brand have appeared 4 times (that I have noticed) on websites I have visited because my initial visit to their site had been tracked.

It’s not the first time I have been exposed to this type of advertising. Another was after I had visited the site of a chain saw manufacturer and then started seeing its ads on some websites totally unrelated to that type of machinery. I am not sure if a chain saw ad next to a story about ISIS beheadings in Iraq would convey a good image for either the advertiser or the site displaying the ad.

It’s as incongruous as posting the photo in this post on a dating site. But then perhaps not if the girl was looking to marry a timberjack..

It is not illegal and some experts promote it as a highly effective, narrowly targeted type of advertising.

As a boomer generation consumer, I do not like it. I find it irritating and intrusive. A reminder that Big Brother is watching me, he knows exactly which sites I visit and what I look at. It arouses the same negative thoughts as spam email.

It does not encourage me to re-visit the site. If anything it persuades me not to because that might trigger another wave of targeted advertising. In the case of the chain saw manufacturer, it was one of the factors in my decision to buy from a competitor.

As a marketer, I accept that it might work for some brands targeted at some market segments but I would have to see some compelling evidence that it was effective before I would use it myself or recommend it to clients.

What would appeal to me would be a competitors ad appearing after I had visited the Zagg site. I expect the technology for that is, or soon will be, available. Perhaps it’s already working so well and unobtrusively that I haven’t noticed it.

What do you think? Have you noticed these ads appearing everywhere on-line after you visited a certain website?

The real subject of this post was to expand on an article in the National Post by Sarah Boesveld in which she suggests that the Internet makes it so easy to obtain information that we have stopped asking the question Why?

She quotes Ian Leslie, author of “Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It” for proposing that we are in an innovation gap.

Other commentators describe it as The Great Stagnation.

I agree. If the Internet makes it too easy to find answers, we stop asking Why and How. We don’t have to use our own brain power to assemble facts from different sources to reach conclusions, they have already been reached for us.

Add the distraction factor to this and it’s easy to see why many people today have a broad but shallow knowledge base. Why few reach mastery in anything because we do not need to dig deep, ask questions or think beyond the answers we can easily find. Mastery requires knowledge in depth, exploring facts, arguing for and against conventional thinking. Much of that needs to be done in our heads, not on a screen in between watching the latest viral cat video and updating Facebook.

Innovation comes from adding to, combining with or modifying the substance of, things already in existence as easily as it can come from brilliant new ideas. To improve and build on what has already been done requires questions:


How can we do it better? Faster? Cheaper? More efficiently? With less environmental impact?

What if we did it this way? Or that way?

Think, speculate, wonder, ask the questions.

Then use the Internet as the brilliant tool it is, for finding information.

Not for providing us with someone else’s ready-made conclusions so that we don’t need to form our own..

What do you think? Leave a comment.

p.s When I when I went to check the attribution of the photo on the freedigitalphotos site, there was a big Zagg ad in the middle of the page. That’s 5!

photo courtesy of marcolm /



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  6 comments for “Re-Marketing and The Internet Curiosity Gap

  1. Philip Quintas
    August 8, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    I hadn’t thought of it like this before, Peter, yet it is clear that the decline in innovative and creative thought in the consumer may be directly attributed to the more invasive and aggressive marketing we experience these days.

    • August 12, 2014 at 10:21 am

      And other distractions so easily found thanks to technology.

  2. Roberta
    August 9, 2014 at 8:52 am

    In some ways the internet is both a blessing and a curse for the reasons you have laid out.

    This is exacerbated by modern schooling where teaching to
    the test – a very narrow curriculum – is the norm. Many school districts have
    ended art, music, and gym to have more time to tech to the test. This is bad
    and sad on so many levels. Many children learn with hands on activities.

    I too have noticed the influx of certain ads after I have
    gone on one site or the other or ordered some thing Amazon. By and large I
    ignore them and seldom click on them unless it is something that really catches
    my eye, or that I need.

    Not sure what to do about all this though. That is the million dollar question.

    • August 12, 2014 at 10:25 am

      When I read sentiments like you have expressed in your first two paragraphs, I cannot help thinking of how much was achieved by many people, some with comparatively little education beyond primary school, one or two centuries ago. New nations established, huge commercial empires built.

      partly because with fewer distractions and more incentives, people thought and innovated.

  3. August 22, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Asking the WHY is what truly allows humans to grow in so many ways. It is not just an Internet problem, the education system, especially in USA, has diminished the capacity or ability to ASK WHY.

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