My music tastes are simple. I like songs that make my toe tap, put a smile on my face and that are good to work out to. So when I browsed Pandora radio looking for my 'perfect station, it wasn't too tough to settle on 'Today's Hits Radio'. Yes, perhaps there's a bit too much Ariana Grande for my taste, and if I have to hear "Fancy" one more time, I may scream. But overall, it's got just the right amount of my girl T-Swift to keep me happy and enough Nicki Minaj to make me feel like I'm not flooding my ears exclusively with saccharine pop.
As you probably know, there are two options for Pandora--a paid, and an unpaid option. I work in advertising so I feel like it's my obligation as a madwoman to listen to radio ads (as a copywriter especially, this dying art needs all the support it can get). So I opted for the unpaid one and chose instead to deal with the :30 ads every ten songs or so. Usually, these ads are benign. Disney bought a whole slew of media a few months ago, enticing me to go on their cruises. Dunkin Donuts encouraged me to try their new cookie-flavored coffees (what is the world coming to). Overall, other than the nasally repetition of "America Runs On Dunkin'" rattling in my ear, I was unperturbed by these commercials.
A month or so ago however, I started getting ads that seemed more targeted to me as a consumer. The first was for an online dating site that promised to connect me with a match a day, hand picked by a matchmaker. I honestly can't for the life of me remember the name of the company. But I do remember to voice, imploring me to join, stating that "You don't have to kiss a million frogs to find your prince." Much as I love being wooed to sign up for yet ANOTHER online dating site mid-morning run, I at least appreciated their knowing their audience. I do spend a lot of time both on my phone and personal computer, perusing online dating sites so I welcomed the targeted advertising at its finest. Also, wise of them to get to me when I'm a captive audience. Fair game.
A week or so ago, things took a turn for the worse. I started getting ads featuring a woman saying something along the lines of 'I'm in my early 30's. I'm fit--I even ran a marathon last year! But when we started trying to get pregnant, nothing worked. I didn't understand why a fit, healthy woman couldn't get pregnant. So we decided to stop using Mr. Google and instead, connect with [INSERT IVF HOSPITAL NAME HERE] to take things to the next level." WHOA! I stopped in my tracks. What happened to my frog/prince/date ad?
For starters, where were they pulling this information from? What in my browser history makes them think that I'm simultaneously single and ready to mingle AND, ready to think about popping out babies? To be honest, I was kind of insulted. Dating ads are relevant and timely. IVF ads are a reminder that I'm single. And nowhere near ready for motherhood. And so, at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park, I had a little moment where I felt sorry for myself. Sorry that I had to hear this ad and, sorry about the emotions it was bringing up in me. A lot of my friends are getting married. Having babies. And I'm still single.
I'm not really the type of girl to get offended by this for long (luckily). But it does make me wonder how data is processed to get information that comes so close to being accurate and yet so far. I never would have thought that my seemingly innocuous Pandora radio station could be so antagonizing!
And yet on I run. The IVF ads have been on repeat enough that I'm pretty immune to them at this point. And truth is, unless I'm willing to cough up the bucks to turn the ads off, I don't really have much of an option other than running through the ad pain.
So ads it is.
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