When web marketing is left to the meeja studies intern

I recently went to the website of a Skoda supplier. We had our last Skoda for 11 years and from the same supplier. We were happy with it, so I was very likely to buy another.

Almost immediately, Skoda advertisements started appearing in my Facebook timeline and elsewhere on the web, including one of a particular car which I had looked at.

Some were straightforward pictures on their own (the one below suggesting that someone would benefit from learning about what happens when you mess with the size of lossy pictures):



Others appeared next to less salubrious pictures of the kind you can’t avoid if you follow hundreds of links in a day:




One even appeared on the Daily Mail website – two of them, indeed, flanking the heading of one of that ghastly organ’s less likeable writers:



Most of us put up with the advertising we see on Facebook or Twitter. We may despise the advertisers but we know that the advertising pays for the frankly amazing technology and the communications power we get from these platforms.

Facebook and Twitter and their kin claim to identify the targets which their advertisers want to reach. Save at the simplest level – like trapping the fact that I visited a Skoda website – they fail in this, and my own experience as a target suggests that Facebook and Twitter are defrauding their advertisers with their claims. The recent advertisement inviting me to become a BMW salesman is but one example of targeting which was way off-beam.


A certain type of marketing genius thinks it a coup to capture the fact that you have visited their website and throw advertising at you. This is generally the same kind of idiot who thinks that marketing success lies in the mere numbers of people who look at a website. My recent experience shows that they – or at least one of them – has no mechanism for connecting the “campaign” with any success. The numbers they boast about at marketing meetings to demonstrate their reach have no identifiable trail to any eventual purchase.

Before turning to that, what do we think of this kind of advertiser anyway? To some extent one judges them by the company they keep: my timelines have advertisements from people whose honesty you instinctively doubt – estate agents, insurance companies, PPI shysters and the like. One adds an element of instinct – we draw conclusions about companies from their websites, qualifying our reaction to their prices (or whatever first drew us in) by a general sense about whether we want to do business with them. I looked recently at a site selling video cameras. Within minutes the first advertisements from them appeared on Facebook. Their prices are good, but something about them makes me certain that I don’t want to deal with them; part of that is an instinctive dislike of this kind of advertising.

I protested….



…but it doesn’t look as if anyone at Skoda (or at the dealership which had placed the ads) follows up references to them on Twitter. Social media is for engagement, not just for chucking stuff up against the wall in the hope that some of it sticks.

At least in the case of Skoda it is clear why Facebook has sent them my way – I must be assumed to be interested because I chose first to go to their site. But…

To cut this story short, we had a demo within a couple of days and bought one from them a few days later. Doubtless the web intern will be claiming credit for the introduction.

But wait. The Skoda advertisements kept pouring in even after we had bought one from that dealer; they continue now, days after the car became ours. It became clear that no-one is keeping track of the success or failure of the “campaign” if the dealer is still paying to have advertisements thrown at me even after I have bought a car from them. I am unlikely to go back for another 11 years.




About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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