Tracking the Rise of Tracking

As digital and mobile become more prominent, it’s getting more personalized–or more intrusive and creepy, depending on how you look at it. Can creatives hold their own in a world where databases of consumer information and tracking behavior are king?

In the advertising industry, we’ve convinced ourselves that more habit tracking and personal data is the key to better ROI. And few people in advertising can get away with arguing that collecting consumer data is a bad thing. I’ve been in any number of meetings where the objective of a project was, in part, “so we can get information.” We’re pressed by clients to pursue ideas that collect emails, create forms that ask a few probing questions, and build that all-important database. The increasing ability to leverage consumer information is a technique that will get only more and more important. After all, it provides tangible data that clients can drop in to their PowerPoint decks.
But there’s a double standard at work. Data collection has been used for years by direct marketers whose work has always been looked down upon by many ad pros, especially creatives. Yet, we’re quick to praise brands that use things like CRM, geotargeting, or other information in the service of some cool concept, while we condemn the ones that feel too intrusive or creatively lacking. Frankly, some brands can get away with it, while other brands can’t — much like pretty people can flirt and make it work to their advantage, while ugly people, not so much.

It’s the subject of my new column on Talent Zoo.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.