Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Look But Don't Click - Part II


John and Jacque checked in with their experiences with the ads I was complaining about. I pulled up The State at work and got these two copies of the ad. Since the outgoing address of our gateway is assigned to an entity in San Francisco, guess where the ads claim to be from.

So I had an idea. I looked at their contact information and wrote Gary Ward who is the Online Editor.

*****

Mr Ward,

I'm writing to you because you are listed as the Online Editor for TheState.com. If this inquiry is improperly sent to you, I would appreciate it if you would let me know who it should be addressed to.

I am concerned about two advertisement blocks on home page of TheState.com. One is roughly in the center of the right side of the page and is labeled "Ads by pulse360". The ad sometimes appears at the top of the home page as well as other pages. The second ad often appears on the bottom left corner of the home page and is labeled "ads by locked on".

Both of these ads are curious because it appears they do a reverse lookup of the reader's IP address and create the ad based on the location the IP address is assigned. For example, I live in Spokane, Washington and the ads prominently display "Spokane: Local Mom makes $77/hr Online!" and "Otis Orchards: Mom Lost 48lbs Following 1 Rule". Otis Orchards is a community nearby Spokane. I've attached the images of the ads that I captured off the site.

When I access TheState.com from work I go through a gateway located in San Francisco. Consequently, the ads display similar claims but now they substitute "El Cerrito" for "Spokane" and "San Francisco" for "Otis Orchards". El Cerrito is across the San Francisco Bay from San Francisco.

As you can see from the images, all of the ads present the same picture and make the same claims. I suspect that if you view your home page from your home, the ads would reference your locale in South Carolina. I find this very misleading and I have two questions.

Are you aware your site is engaging in this practice?

What is your position on the ethics of such advertisements being placed on your site?


Sincerely,

Hank Greer
Spokane, WA

*****

Mr Ward informed me "I have forwarded your e-mail to our VP of Interactive".

That person is Matthew Ipsan (scroll down) who sent me this:

*****

Mr. Greer,

Thank you so much for your interest in thestate.com. The practice of localized ads is used in television and in radio as well, where regional/national ads are altered to better fit the geographic location of the audience. The ads you’re referring to can be found on news and information websites across the country.

Thanks again for your interest in thestate.com, all the way from Seattle.

Sincerely,

Matthew


Matthew I. Ipsan
VP, Interactive Media
The State Media Company
803-771-8624
704-728-6364

www.thestate.com

www.gogamecocks.com

* More than 1.1 million people use thestate.com each month
* More than 11 million page views are read each month on thestate.com
* Visitors stay for nearly 7.5 minutes each time they visit, longer than any other news and information website in South Carolina

*****

No direct answers to my questions and very much an unsatisfactory response. Basically, everyone else is doing it so we are too, and thanks for checking in from Spokane Seattle.

I touched on this subject last May but I didn't dig into it much. So this time I used the Google and found an article from last April and one from last May that make for some interesting reading.

2 comments:

Bill Foss said...

They never tell you the ONE RULE!

Hank said...

Dang! I forgot to ask about that. Maybe that lady in El Cerrito can help me out.