Target's monkey business reveals the trouble with targeted online ads


The Internet has definitely changed advertising forever -- and not necessarily for the better. The development of contextual and behavioral targeting for Internet ads has let advertisers match spots with web surfers' individual proclivities -- or with the pages they're looking at.

Unfortunately, results of such ad hoc matching can be disastrous. Witness the case of Target Corp. (TGT)'s recent online ad campaign for designer Paul Frank's popular sock-monkey dolls -- juxtaposed with a story about racially insensitive dolls holding toy monkeys.