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Are dating sites using behavioral targeting to bait their users with false hope?

I was talking with one of my co-workers today who had been using of the big online dating sites because she noticed something that just seemed wrong. She has been a member of the site for a while and had gone out on some dates but hadn’t found anyone she clicked with and was getting frustrated and considering canceling her membership. About that time she got an email from a good looking guy, we will call him Bob, who she thought was cute but his email was kind of generic. She replied to it anyway but never heard anything back and finally canceled her membership. She moved on down the road until a few weeks later when the site emailed her about a free communication weekend where former members could go on to the site and talk with other members for free to try and get them to join again. Within minutes of receiving that email from the site, low and behold Bob emailed her again with yet another nice but completely generic email that didn’t reference anything from her email. Now suspicious that this person may be a plant, she replied again with a more pointed email that even included her Gmail email address trying to get a response from him with some information that wold show it was from a real person. As of the date of this posting that response has not come.

This all may have been a series of really convenient coincidences or my cynical nature may be running wild but it just feels too much like behavioral targeting to me. I have used it on a lot of online campaigns but to create a false sense of hope and take more money from people who are looking for a real connection is just sleazy. This is one of those things were I hope someone who has more time than me investigates this to see if it is really true and expose any sites that would do anything this slimy.

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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