Contextual Advertising Trying a Bit Too Hard

    October 4, 2006

As I’ve been telling friends and family, I’m working on a new book. A very easy one to write, it will be, as the content is entirely user-generated.

Instead of having to dream up something fake (as in a book my father used to laugh his head off at, the now-rare-and-antiquarian “Letters To My Son,” by Eric Nicol), I receive all these highly personal emails from people – but they’re not for me.

It seems that pretty much everyone is willing to guess at an email address if they don’t know it. And if your Gmail address happens to be a really popular “guessed email,” you get the most crazily private stuff sent to you. I’ve had comforting notes sent by an aunt to two squabbling siblings. I’ve been invited for drinks uptown, not in my town. I’ve been asked to proof a traditional wedding vow. And seen minutes for private business meetings. All over email sent to the wrong guy. Are people out of their minds?

And then Google turns around and shows ads next to nonsense subject lines (like “yo!”, sent by “Debbie”), compounding the bemusement.

Well… as Debbie just wrote to me (thinking I’m “Ashley”): “Enjoy Nascar!”

Keep those letters coming…

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Andrew Goodman is Principal of Page Zero Media, a marketing consultancy which focuses on maximizing clients’ paid search marketing campaigns.

In 1999 Andrew co-founded, an acclaimed “guide to portals” which foresaw the rise of trends such as paid search and semantic analysis.