Miguel Helft and Tanzina Vega report:
The shoes that Julie Matlin recently saw on Zappos.com were kind of cute, or so she thought. But Ms. Matlin wasn’t ready to buy and left the site.
Then the shoes started to follow her everywhere she went online. An ad for those very shoes showed up on the blog TechCrunch. It popped up again on several other blogs and on Twitpic. It was as if Zappos had unleashed a persistent salesman who wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“When you begin to give people a sense of how this is happening, they really don’t like it,” said Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, who has conducted consumer surveys about online advertising. Professor Turow, who studies digital media and recently testified at a Senate committee hearing on digital advertising, said he had a visceral negative reaction to the ads, even though he understands the technologies behind them.
Read more in the New York Times.