Earlier this week, I decided to buy a fossil.
This was a pretty impetuous decision.
I had never demonstrated any interest in fossil acquisition.
I knew nothing about the market.
The decision to buy a fossil stemmed from some combination of:
- Seeing a guy hawking fossils in Union Square on Sunday
- Going to a dinner party earlier this month at a fossil collector’s home and subsequently thinking the host was outrageously cool.
So Tuesday I started looking into the market.
I decided I wanted a trilobite — for all intents and purposes, a common, early Cambrian cockroach — as it seemed like a good, inexpensive specimen to begin amassing a collection.
After thoroughly checking out the market — Etsy, EBay, a handful of specialty sites — I realised that pricing was pretty confusing and I’d revisit it later.
Then yesterday — one day after the initial search — I start seeing these ads everywhere on Facebook:
That’s Etsy trying to sell me a trilobite, one day after I spent an evening Googling trilobites. Creepy.
But most importantly, we can ascertain a couple of things:
- Facebook knew I went to Etsy
- Facebook knew I wanted a fossil, specifically a Trilobite.
- Facebook somehow coordinated with Etsy to produce a picture of a Trilobite on the ad for Etsy.
I’m not a tech writer, so this was news to me. I’m told that Google, and Amazon, and others track my behaviour.
Anyway, it was a pretty big wake-up call to the extent that Facebook tracks my activity and hawks it to advertisers.
Also, if anyone knows a reputable fossil salesman feel free to contact me.