Last month I went looking for a pair of 8-1/2 EEEE shoes on the Zappos.com. I spent a long time with Zappos (a subsidiary of Amazon.com) and found the shoes I wanted.
For reasons to be explained later, I went direct to the website of the manufacturer—New Balance—and bought my shoes there.
For days afterwards, ads for Zappos started turning up as I surfed various websites—Slate.com, PhillyNews.com, Find-a-Grave.com and Time.com—to name four.
In the media player at right you can see the ads with wee photographs of shoes that I had looked at.
This is a truly stupid advertising technique created by the newest breed of smug little 20-somethings—dazzled by their technical wizardry and unable to get inside the heads of those with whom they are communicating.
These goons were first loosed on the Internet in the late 1990s.
"The Internet is a new medium and a new paradigm," they told us marketing geezers. "The old rules of marketing don't apply. It's a world of new rules and we make them."
Because of this philosophy, billions of dollars were lost in the great dot-com bust of 2000.
Why Zappos' Marketing People Should Be Zapped
In these ads under the Zappos logo (in mousetype) was the question: "Why am I seeing this ad?" Click on it, and up comes this smartypants headline and copy:
Some People Prefer Rainbows, And Others Prefer Unicorns. If you prefer not to see personalized ads, we totally get it.
OPT OUT HERE.
At Zappos.com, we know different people like different things, so we want our ads to reflect that. That's why we love these ads! They display products that are relevant to you versus a typical ad that showcases a limited product offering.
Translation: "This is not about you-the prospect or customer. It's all about us! Oh, Wow! Are we ever clever!"
Do the Zappos kids really believe that hitting me in the eye with a parade of teeny shoes on every website I surf is going to sell me anything?
Frankly, it creeps me out.
In the disclaimer copy at the bottom is this line:
Importantly, no personal information of any kind was shared with any of the sites we advertise on. Everything is anonymous.
In early January of this year, the Zappos website was hacked. My personal information—along with more than 24 million fellow Zappos customers—is being shared with cyber criminals all over the Internet.
As this new personal information is added to my digital dossier on these illicit databases and rocketed around the world, it's only a matter of time before Peggy and I are ripped off because of the Zappos hack.
Which is why I went to New Balance and ordered directly from the manufacturer. Nobody's going to spend time hacking into the customer files of a relatively small cobbler.
Zappos is a great place to shop—to see what's available (in weird sizes and made in the USA) from myriad manufacturers.
But nice folks do not run Zappos. Their IT people are utterly incompetent and they are stalkers.