Monday, June 30, 2008

A hit, and a...

Oops. But they're allowed.

Amazon has been at the forefront of one-to-one marketing since the beginning of time, or at least since Al Gore invented the internet. Way back in the dark ages, when I think we still had to call up and give our credit card number over the phone (!), Amazon opened as (self-described) "Earth's Biggest Bookstore."

You know me - I never met a bookstore I didn't like - how could I resist that? I not only ordered a book from them, I also signed up for their "Eyes" service, which, as described in their 1997 SEC filing:

allow[ed] customers to specify an author, title or subject area and receive notice automatically when a new book is published that matches their criteria.

Sounds simple now, doesn't it? Ridiculously amateurish, almost. Almost. Back then, though - let me tell you, one small step for Bezos, one giant step for mankind. There wasn't anything like it - if your favorite author came out with a new book, no one was going to tell you - let alone if another author like your favorite author came out with a new book. Well, Amazon was going to tell you. Amazing.

We got used to that pretty darn quick - and one-to-one e-marketing became rapidly and significantly more sophisticated. You may not even think twice about the little lists you see as you shop online - "Customers who looked at this item also looked at... " or "Customers who bought this also bought these..." It's a whole lot of brain-power spinning somewhere trying to wring every last penny out of you - I mean make your shopping experience as fulfilling as possible.

Every now and then, though, those automated marketing algorithms throw out a suggestion that makes you remember that HAL is just IBM shifted one letter backward in the alphabet and Dave is actually human and still has the advantage (if only by a hair).

Such as... this morning in my inbox, I received an email from Amazon with "recommended add-ons for" the neoprene iPod nano armband I recently purchased. Want to guess the top recommended accessory? I'll give you a minute. Yup, you got it. An iPod nano. Ya think?

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