Charles Gutjahr

Melbourne, Australia

August 2011

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Charles Gutjahr

Blog post

Death and the inadvertent advertisement

18 Aug 2011 — a 1 minute read on business

Two men were shot and killed today at CBD Smash Repairs in Florence Street, Brunswick, according to The Age and other media. It’s a horrible story, and not something anyone would make light of.

So it is unfortunate that the initial article published by The Age online had this advertisement displayed next to the story:

OnePath Life Insurance Advertisement on News of Shooting at Florence Street, Brunswick

Yes, it’s an advertisement for life insurance right next to a story about people being shot dead.

Insure their future with OnePath EasyProtect Life

Now obviously this isn’t deliberate; I doubt anyone would think it is funny to place an advertisement for life insurance next to an article about a horrible and untimely death.

Most likely it is the result of an automated system assigning the advertisement to this page. Maybe the system picked up the word life from ‘fighting for his life’ and decided this would be a suitable article for life insurance. It is insensitive and inhuman to advertise life insurance in an article like this, but unfortunately that’s literally what a computer is: inhuman.

The complex algorithms and targeting of online advertising is meant to be ‘smart’, delivering more relevant and more useful advertising than a printed newspaper ever could. But foolish advertisements like this make me wonder… is online advertising really that smart?

© 2023 Charles Gutjahr