Big Data Marketing Fail: Someone Tell LinkedIn I’m Not a Chick

I’m as big a fan as the next guy of using the power of big data for targeting advertising messages. Maybe why that’s annoyed that I keep getting a mis-targeted ad on my LinkedIn profile.

Here’s a screen shot of the “Ads by LinkedIn Members” section of my LinkedIn page:

You’ve probably guessed, it’s the bottom ad (the other ads are targeted beautifully). This ad clearly targets professional women. It’s been appearing on my profile page for months now. The problem is, if you didn’t already know, I’m male, not female (last time I checked).

The ad is for something called Outside Counsel, which from its website appears to be a very worthwhile workplace mentorship program for women. I feel bad that they aren’t getting what they expected – and what they are paying for – from LinkedIn.

I hope by mentioning them in this post I can make it up to Outside Counsel for clicking on their link.

The problem is obvious, right? My given name, Dana, while unisex, is more often a woman’s name than a man’s.

But shouldn’t a company as sophisticated as LinkedIn be able to figure this out? It kind of gives you pause about the whole idea of ad targeting, doesn’t it? I’m sure this problem extends far beyond LinkedIn.

Let’s have a look at my profile page header:

With facial recognition technology, shouldn’t LinkedIn be able to infer my gender? I’d like to think it’s not too tough to determine my gender by looking at my picture – at least if you’re a human.

This needs to be figured out – otherwise this ad will keep going to other male Danas – and Kellys and Kims and Leslies – and Outside Counsel will keep wasting their money.

About Dana Stanley

Dana is the Editor-in-Chief of Research Access.


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