you can be sold in seconds

Last week I was looking at an underwear website (which I’m not going to mention… no free advertising from me). We’ll call it Website A. The next time I logged into my email, there was a banner ad for Website A. The same thing happened when looking at Website B, checking out some winter boots (sticking to needs here). Clicked on the site and boom! My computer suddenly started running their ads. And again today with Websites C and D….

I knew that I was being marketed to before the banner ads suddenly became so blatant but until this week they always seemed a bit random. Kids clothes? I don’t have kids and never check out kids things online. Dating sites? Not even remotely looking for a date. But it has become very clear that I’m being targeted for specific products. And you are too. But I had no clue how it worked until, like they knew what I was thinking, the New York Times ran this article:

You can be sold in seconds. No, wait: make that milliseconds.

The odds are that access to you — or at least the online you — is being bought and sold in less than the blink of an eye. On the Web, powerful algorithms are sizing you up, based on myriad data points: what you Google, the sites you visit, the ads you click. Then, in real time, the chance to show you an ad is auctioned to the highest bidder.

Not that you’d know it. These days in the hyperkinetic world of digital advertising, all of this happens automatically, and imperceptibly, to most consumers.

Ever wonder why that same ad for a car or a couch keeps popping up on your screen? Nearly always, the answer is real-time bidding, an electronic trading system that sells ad space on the Web pages people visit at the very moment they are visiting them. Read the rest of the article.


new york post

It’s been a while since I posted anything besides music videos but life has been a bit crazy. Applying for jobs, presenting my thesis proposal and trip to NY for three weeks. How did a gal with very limited funds get to NY, you may ask. As the Flight of the Conchords say, when you’re unemployed there’s no vacation. Unless you take a working vacation.

Good friends have gone on a real vacation to Malaysia so I’m here dog and house sitting. No expensive hotels; just their beautiful home (which is nicer than any hotel I know of, quite frankly). No fancy restaurants; rather, a fully stocked kitchen. No chi chi yoga classes; instead, long walks with the cutest corgi on planet. Very relaxing, getting lots of school work done, having a nice visit with a friend who has come from Montreal for a few days, enjoying the fall foliage and sunny days.

Oh ya, and shopping.

I got an unexpected top-up on my scholarship immediately before leaving and I’m basically spending it all. I’ll post more on Black Friday after the event but there are “amazing deals” to be had and I’m taking advantage of them. In a restrained way.

I posted previously about my need for a new winter coat. My current coat is from J Crew and it lasted 10 years before it started falling apart. I have looked extensively in Winnipeg for a wool coat with a Thinsilate lining and haven’t found any. The lining means I can wear it much longer into the season before switching to my parka, and it is also nice to have a coat that is warm enough for dressing up in the middle of winter. Thinking specifically of going to church with my mom on Christmas. Though I suppose a parka over a fancy dress is a classic Canadian look. Anyway, given that the dollar is more or less on par right now…

Canadian price: $390
U.S. price: $335 – $83.75 (25% Black Friday discount) = $251.21
Difference: $138.79

Will also be purchasing the aforementioned much needed underwear. And my Christmas shopping is done (not that I usually go crazy with the Christmas gifts). Have bought a few other things but sticking to, well, if not needs, then very practical purchases. I have avoided temptation (and trust me, there is plenty of temptation in NY!) the easiest way I know how…. by simply not going into those stores or looking at their websites.