Facebook has been running “sponsored stories” ads for quite some time, and with good results – most of my clients achieve a significantly higher CTR running this type of ad over standard Facebook ads, outweighing the downside of the slightly higher CPC.
LinkedIn, too, leverages the activity of your network to drive actions on the site, from analysing your contacts and their connections in order to identify “People you may know”, to highlighting what your connections are up to via status updates and an activity feed. I’ve always found these features unobtrustive, and sometimes pretty useful. But today LinkedIn went too far, and in my mind, crossed the line between “clever” and “creepy”.
I logged in to LinkedIn and immediately did a double take, when I saw my profile picture, not only in the top left-hand corner of my screen where it usually sits, but in the right-hand column. Moreover, my picture sat next to a job title that isn’t mine. Above the logo of a company I don’t work for. So far, so freaky. Then I read the caption, and I got it. “Picture yourself with this new job” – I guess this is the new breed of recruitment adverts, the new levels of subversion that LinkedIn adverts have to go to in order to elicit sufficient levels of awareness and raise CTRs. That doesn’t stop it being creepy.
It got me thinking, at what point does using data and leveraging generous user permissions stop being clever and start being invasive? I think as marketers, the onus is on us to take a step back from time to time and think not only about what’s possible given all the new tools we have at our fingertips to harness user data, but about what’s ethical and acceptable.
Oh, and if my boss is reading this – no, I didn’t apply for the job.