Point of View: Behavioural angst

Joe Mandese

A few years ago, I took up golf, started shopping for a set of clubs and did some research on sites, such as Callaway.com.

Ultimately, I ended up buying a set of Pings, but to my surprise, ads promoting Callaway golf clubs began appearing on websites I visited that had nothing to do with golf. That was about five years ago, and the Callaway ads are still following me around, even though I am no longer in the market to buy golf clubs.

Callaway has obviously been utilising the science of online behavioural marketing to target me. But I am sharing the anecdote with you because I don't believe, based on this experience, that it is much of a science at all.

Five years ago, my visit to Callaway.com rightly revealed my intentions to purchase a new set of golf clubs, thereby making me a valuable prospect. The company then dropped a cookie on my browser, meaning it downloaded some simple code on my computer that alerted a third-party targeting company every time my browser showed up on a web page that Callaway could buy a display ad on and then serve a new offer to me.