Why you always need a human in the chain of command…

This morning I was perusing a newsfeed and saw the following headline.


Being both a TV watcher and an elevator user, I clicked on it and the header of the article appeared on my iPhone.


When I scrolled down the next item I encountered was this:


Followed by this:


Now many of you might not know that my other life, when I am not being a fancy-schmancy author, I am a Senior Vice President/Creative Director of a New York advertising agency. So I know a little something about serving up ads. In this case, Federal, the advertiser has been SERVED! But not by a human! This client was served by an algorithm: a stream of computer code devoid of any reason or understanding.  This little “Ad-Bot” was told (programmed) by someone to scrub all on-line published content, and, IF you see any reference to the key words ‘Elevator’ or ’Lift’ or ‘Escalator’, etc. THEN serve up this ad [Home Lifts] to that site.”

So that’s how the client who is selling the safety, reliability and convenience of an In-Home elevator or stairway lift device, got put in the middle of a frightening, death-defying, terror inducing, nightmare of a story of,

“When Elevators Go Bad and Try to Kill Humans.”

Or maybe it was just that the little “Ad-Bot” was tickled by the story where the machine gets to scare the crap out of humans… what a delightful fantasy for a lowly machine-born entity to have.

Decorum precludes me from delving into the further bad taste in judgment of having the picture of a woman’s face immediately underlined with the notion of “Home Lifts” – but I will leave that to Greta’s liable lawyers to hash out.

Also you may notice the ad for “nurse training” at the bottom of the frame grab. It’s a sure bet that added into that particular ad’s algorithm is an overlap that may have included some term common to, both the Nurse and the Lift’s, Ad-Bot’s instructions. A word recognition coding chain that tried to point their ads at people who are -ELDERLY- or -CARING FOR ELDERS- or –ELDER CARE- or –CARE WORKERS-. Ergo; Learn To Be A Nurse was served up on a near-tragic elevator story.   In the screwy world of the automated ad agency logic, this stuff makes perfect sense… but in our human world it makes nonsense.

By the way, and my boss is making me write this, IN OUR AGENCY, we would have used the exclusionary options to serve up the ad ONLY IF words like death, fear, terror, drop, trapped, police, fire department, vomit, etc. were NOT found in the text of the piece.  There, now my “other” job is safe.