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Ken Magill

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The Internet is Following Me ... and I'm Amazed

11/29/11

By Ken Magill

I briefly coveted a Bob Kramer knife and the fact that the Internet behaviorally targeted ad industry knows it is amazing.

My wife and I are serious cooks. Every weekend we go through various recipe books and websites and choose two or three recipes.

We hardly ever cook the same thing twice. As a result, we recently calculated that in the 10 years we’ve known each other we have probably made more than 1,000 different meals.

And anyone who does that kind of cooking will tell you that besides a few high-quality pots and pans, arguably the most important piece of equipment is a good chef’s knife.

I use a Global. It’s light, well-balanced and keeps its edge. I never thought I’d ever consider replacing it.

Then I saw a video for Bob Kramer and his knives. He forges every one by hand. They cost $300 … an inch. They’re in such demand that people who want one must supply their email addresses to enter a lottery simply to get the opportunity to buy one.

“This is nuts,” said the rational half of my brain as my cursor hovered over Kramer’s email sign-up box. “You’re not going to spend more than $2,000 on a kitchen knife, are you?”

“Hey, you only live once,” said the part of my brain that has no self control and causes me to drink too much on a regular basis. “Think about the money you spend on cigars and compare that to the cost of the Holy Grail of chefs’ knives and the fact that you’ll have it until the day you die.”

Eventually the rational part of my brain won the debate and I clicked off of Kramer’s site without supplying my email address.

Then I found out he has a more affordable line available at Sur La Table where they run from $269.95 to $379.95. By comparison, our trusty Global sells for $115.

After checking the more affordable line out, I opted not to go from Global to Bob Kramer. The reason: Kramer’s knives are made from carbon steel and Globals are made from stainless.

Stainless steel requires little more than an occasional sharpening. Carbon steel requires more maintenance than I am willing to put into a knife, especially when the Global works so well.

However, in the intervening days I have reconsidered several times. Why? Because on multiple websites, I have been served ads for Bob Kramer knives available at Sur La Table. Not just ads for Sur La Table, but ads for the very product I have been considering.

The ads are catching me mulling a high-consideration purchase. Every time I see them, they pull at me. The only-live-once-have-another-martini part of my brain may yet win out.

Those ads are an example of the wonders of current Internet-advertising technology, the creation of which was motivated purely by profits.

When I see those ads, first I am in awe. The fact that I can read a British newspaper supported by advertising specifically tailored to my current interests without leaving my home is nothing short of astounding.

I remember when banners weren’t working. The whole industry looked to be under threat of a collapse from which it might not recover.

Behaviorally targeted advertising saved the commercial Internet, enabling it to become the integral part of our media consumption it is today.

For friggin’ free.

But after I consider how amazing online advertisers’ capabilities have become, I think about the spoiled, crybaby-brat privacy advocates who want to eliminate them.

Then I get angry.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: David Chitester
Date: 2011-12-01 17:41:48
Subject: Internet-advertising technology

Ken, I totally agree. If I am going to see ads on sites I visit, why shouldn't they be relative? Why does it matter if a site knows I visited it or not? They don't even know who I am or my email address. The so-called privacy advocates speak only for themselves and should just stay off the Internet if they are that concerned.

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