We may be getting used to seeing targeted online ad campaigns based on our browsing history and social media interactions, but what about ads that are literally nothing more than generic statements of what Twitter’s ad-targeting algorithm thinks about us?
Sam Lavigne over at The New Inquiry has created what he calls “The Infinite Campaign,” which takes the data that Twitter has about specific users’ interests and turns them into highly specific but commercially pointless Twitter ads.
To help advertisers reach their intended audience, Twitter takes the info it has about users from their interactions on the site — who they follow, who follows them, etc — and combines it with off-site user data from third-party brokers. This is all mixed together and sorted to great groups that range from the very general (“People who are home owners”) to the incredibly precise (“People who are likely Jaguar owners who are in market for a used vehicle in the next 6 months”).
Using that list of more than 1,500 groups, Lavigne created his Infinite Campaign, rephrasing the group names into second-person statements — “You are self-employed,” “You are likely to watch or attend professional wrestling matches” — that are then placed on top of automatically selected stock footage clips.
“The end results,” explains Lavigne, “are portraits of Twitter users generated according to the fantasies by which Twitter understands us.”
The New Inquiry story has hundreds of examples of these auto-generated ads. Here are just a couple of examples: