I have an app on my phone that allows me to play “Spider Solitaire,” which helps me kill time on the road. Because I’m a cheapskate, I downloaded the free version of the app, which means I have to endure, and promptly delete, an advertisement before I can play a new game.
In the past, the ads were almost exclusively for other time-wasting game apps, which almost always featured smiling and frolicking animated creatures, or happy magic elves, or popping cubes, or a classy English butler who was part of a secret society trying to find hidden objects on the screen. Lately, though, the ads seem to be sending a darker, more targeted message: Hey user! We’ve somehow figured out that you’re old, and since you’ve never responded positively to an ad with adorable, starry-eyed tap-dancing pandas, we’re going to bombard you with obvious age-related products instead!
I first noticed this theme when I started to see ads for pharmaceutical products, like an ad for a drug that is supposed to deal with type 2 diabetes. Geez, I thought: That’s a pretty serious topic for a pop-up ad on a free game app. But then the next ad was for $350,000 in life insurance, with no age or health limits, that would allow your family to bury you and give you peace of mind that they would be provided for after you went into the Great Beyond. And since then I’ve seen ads for new mattresses so I can get a better night’s sleep, ads for prostate and urinary tract medications, and ads for retirement communities featuring smiling seniors out on the golf course. What’s next? Ads for Sansabelt slacks, Geritol, and early bird specials at the MCL Cafeteria?
It’s getting so that playing a few games of Spider Solitaire has become kind of a downer. Hey, can we go back to those ultra-cute tap-dancing pandas?