An Apple in Your Wallet

Category: Marketing Strategies & Tips

Behind Apple’s Targeted Advertising Master Plan

A marketer’s dream is to master targeted advertising, having all of their ads reach their desired market, making them more impactful and valuable to the advertiser. Target advertising isn’t a mysterious idea – it’s a type of advertising where the ads are placed strategically to reach the target consumer based on a various traits or variables. For instance, say an ad about gold-laced sunscreen was made specifically to target rich people in Miami. Targeted advertising would aim to ensure that the ad was seen primarily by rich people in Miami and nowhere else.

What is a little mysterious, however, is Apple’s new plan to enhance their targeted advertising.The technology giant filed a patent in March 2015, entitled “Method and system for delivering advertisements to mobile terminals”, which sounds like the name of a very dry thesis that not even the professor wants to read. The patent, if successful, would allow Apple to be able to specifically target to consumers based on their personal bank balance. Even George Orwell didn’t think it would get to this extreme.

How it operates, while creepy, is pretty ingenious. Apple collects the data derived from the Apple Pay app, and then creates personalized ads for individual consumers, based on how much credit they have, and how much their budget’s will stretch. Young, broke students will no longer see ads for Burberry raincoats while wealthy consumers won’t view ads for bargain diapers. The ads are targeted for the budget of the consumer.

The Innovative Marketer

While this idea may seem slightly frightening, most people wouldn’t think it was far fetched. With how much personal information we keep online, it was only a matter of time before someone tapped into how to use our financial woes to their marketing advantage. And targeted marketing collected online is a concept as old as MySpace. All of the ads on the sidelines of your Facebook page have been targeted to your specific interests, mostly based on keywords of what you posts and your “Like” history.

The idea of targeting ads is nice to the consumer as it takes away some of the work that they have to do. If someone could make a man targeted towards me based on my dating history, it would take out the work of me sifting through a wider range of men on my own. It makes the work easier.

Another benefit to the targeted pay is that it might stop some people from overspending. We live in a consumer-based society, where people are designed to want more than they need. If taking away the ads from people who really can’t afford it will stop them from buying a new iPad when they don’t need one that is a small success for the war against consumerism.

The Creepy Behind the Commercial

Since the patent first made news last year, there have been many headlines detailing how invasive this technology seems. Headlines such as “Apple wants to pre-check your spending power,” were common than Apple probably wanted.

There is an element of uneasiness to their plan. The idea that Apple is going to research how much money you have before they decide to advertise to you is invasive and slightly discriminatory. Just because you don’t have the money to eat at the restaurant doesn’t mean that you can’t read the menu. But Apple’s plan wouldn’t give new consumers the chance to see their products. They are deciding who gets to see their ads, and people usually don’t like having their decisions made for them.

The other factor that Apple overlooked with this technology is the resistance to surveillance culture. There is massive pushback against laws that would grant governments more leeway in surveillance, such as Bill C-51, and many Americans have a strong distaste for surveillance after Edward Snowden leaked the government files, proving that their own government was spying on them.

People are reluctant to give permission to know more about their personal lives, and some are opting to go offline, choosing more traditional mediums of communication. No matter advanced the technology, having a multi-billion dollar corporation know the personal finances of their customers will always be creepy and deter people from participating.

Targeted advertising, while not a new concept, is still mysterious to some people, and can come across as too aggressive for the average consumer. However, there are benefits to it, for both the marketers and the consumers, and Apple’s job is to present it in a way where the benefits outweigh the shortcomings. And with the negative implications of surveillance culture, they have their work cut out for them.

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Faye Alexander

Faye Alexander loves to type, scribble and scrawl because words are her favourite play things. As an editor, writer and social media professional, she brought her skill-set to the evolving world of Marketing. She has a passion for inciting meaningful dialogue through crafted content and opening doors to two-way conversations. Some of her favourite words include, but are not limited to: feminism, effervescent, spoon and malarchy.

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