I have noticed a change in my web use recently. The pages I visit regularly nearly all seem to have targeted ads by Google. In other words, it is not the Guardian that is choosing the ads I see when I read their newspaper on line. Sure they get some revenue, but Google is picking the ads to show to me. Based on what I have been up to on line. Which in the last couple of weeks has been planning my winter vacation. So now every time I glance at an ad it is either for Celebrity cruises or one of the big US hotel chains. But I actually have zero interest in these sites now, since I have (some time ago actually) completed all the arrangements. I am not "in the market" for buying these services. I have made my choices and paid my money. So showing me ads for them is a waste of effort. I am not about to click on them now, especially if I learn that the price I paid has now gone down some more. That won't add anything to my happiness.
Indeed it was seeing such ads for my former cell phone company that offered new customers a much better deal than they would offer me as a well established client with a good history. They even cheekily suggested that they would need a credit check. So now I am with a new cell phone company.
Google's algorithms are very clever indeed. But the basic idea of a successful advertisement is to alert me to a product or service, convince me to use one brand over others and then make me a customer. If I am already a customer - and not yet ready to consider repeat business - the ad is of no use to me - or the advertiser. If I was Celebrity Cruises or Westin Hotels I would be rethinking my on line strategy. Because I don't see this one winning any new business from me.