Ads From The Uncanny Valley

For the past couple of weeks I've been bombarded by pre-roll ads for a certain office supply store. The ads have a generic voiceover about back to school or professional looking documents, with a product I recently viewed on their website. The product, mind you, had absolutely nothing to do with either professional looking documents or back to school but that didn't seem to matter. It should amaze and delight the consumer that a company has the capability to do this.

However, the result is anything but amazing.

I completely understand what they're trying to do. It makes sense to try to match product people need with the ads you're serving them. And it was probably an easy sell because it sounds really good. 

But it doesn't work good. 

It's inhuman. 


And a little spooky. 

It's an ad stuck in the uncanny valley of quasi-personalized advertising. You're aware that your viewing behavior is being watched and logged. But you're not blown away that they can deliver the right message at the right time. Because that's not enough. There's no idea beyond the presentation that yes, indeed, I did search for that laptop shipping-box.

The technology isn't there yet. And because the technology isn't there yet you get an ad that's operating on a half crippled gimmick. Like a magician learning how to cut the deck, but not retrieve your card.

No doubt someone will come along and figure out a way to perfect this. The first TV commercial wasn't anything special. But for the time being I wish that marketers and their agencies didn't get goaded into things like this.

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