April 08, 2012

Dear Catalog CEOs: One-To-One CRM and Chicos

Dear Catalog CEOs:

Here's the deal ... on Saturday, I was researching apparel brands.  I typed Chicos.com into Quantcast ... I DID NOT PHYSICALLY VISIT CHICOS, nor have I visited Chicos.com in 2012, according to my web history.

You'd almost think that an advertiser cookied my computer, because in a few hours, I was receiving "view through opportunities" to purchase from Chicos.

I'm not sure how relevant the ads are, given that the website where the ads appeared contained an article about the death of journalism (see the ads and article in the image above).

And, oh, by the way, I am male ... not quite in the target market Chicos goes after.

If you hover over the ad, you realize that an agency called Turn may be accountable for the placement of this ad (click here to visit Turn.com).  Here is Turn's Twitter Page (click here)

Now, guess what happens when you page down a little bit further?

Right below the ad I showed you at the top of the page is another ad ... ALSO FROM CHICOS!

However, this ad appears to be served-up by a different ad agency ... m6d (click here to learn more about them).

The article I was reading was three pages long.  Look at what happens on page two.

Look ... only five additional Chicos ads on the second page.  Fortunately, there were no additional ads from Chicos on the third page.

Seven "view throughs" from seven ads from Chicos, served by two agencies, to a male who was interrupted while reading an article about the death of journalism, a male who will never buy womens apparel from Chicos, a male who simply typed the Chicos URL into Quantcast.

This is the enlightened, data-driven age we live in.

I know, I know, the agencies will say that my website activities cause me to fall into segments of customers that are similar to women age 55-74, the target demographic who shop at Chicos (click here for Quantcast data about Chicos).

Never mind that somebody is scraping my surfing data from websites that have nothing to do with Chicos in order to serve up relevant and timely ads that aren't so relevant or timely.

We all know that the online marketing manager at Chicos has no idea that this is happening.  Imagine how mortified s/he will be on Monday morning when reading this?

We all know that both ad agencies would find it surprising, even funny, that they both served a comparable ad to me on the same page at the same time.  They may even use this as evidence that they are doing the right job, in aggregate, given that each approach yielded the same outcome.

And we all know that maybe it is time to pay more attention to what is happening with our scarce advertising dollars.

We have a measurement/marketing community that talks about accountability, about data-driven strategies, about one-to-one communications, about relevancy.  This community creates the outcome that we read about here, today, an outcome that few of us would say, "yup, that's about right!"

Dear Catalog CEOs --- let's pay attention to what our marketing teams, our vendors, and our analytics partners are doing.  From time to time, perfectly good intentions wind up yielding an experience similar to this one, and that doesn't help us sell merchandise, does it?

P.S.:  In no way am I unaccountable here, either.  I classify customers into Judy / Jennifer / Jasmine segments, making the same mistakes that are outlined in this article.  This is a call to action for all of us ... Executives, Marketers, Analytics Experts ... to all be more accountable.


  1. Kevin - love your writing, love your articles, but I think you missed this one. Lookalike targeting works to some degree (on last-click attribution), and that's hard to say while doing display ads. I think you can admit you can't divine intent perfectly from surfers and the vast majority of people who are typing in chicos.com and related sites and are probably not awesome analytics dudes. You may have visited a bunch of sites in your research that makes you look NOT like a middle aged dude, but like a female online buyer. It's not such a miss in my mind. All due respect.

  2. John, you can disagree with me, that's fine. People should disagree with me.

    It is fine to segment me with 55-74 year old women, based on my habits, I'll grant that one to anybody who wants to make the argument.

    You didn't dispute the other 93% of the article, and that's important.

  3. Quantcast calls us continually trying to sell banner ads to visitors. I bet that's part of what you're seeing. It's cheap, but I always felt it was irrelevant. The Quantcast visitor isn't a shopper, but an analyst or investor or the competition. I bet Chico's is testing Quantcast segments.


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