LivingSocial: Deceptive Local Advertising?

Here’s an ad I saw this morning on an online currency exchange calculator website, and found interesting enough to click on:


I don’t actually live in Palo Alto, but it’s pretty close to where I do live, and I really like lobster, so this seemed interesting to me. Once I clicked on it, it took me to a generic LivingSocial landing page that prompted me to confirm my city, and had prefilled “San Jose” as my location. It also asked for an email address. I provided an email address and was then taken to a page that had NOTHING to do with lobster in either San Jose OR Palo Alto for that matter (for those not from the Bay Area, San Jose is a good 20-30 minutes away from Palo Alto depending on traffic, so it’s not “close”). I saw a bunch of deals for spa’s etc.

I came into the office and went to the same website, hoping to see the ad again. Amazingly, I did. My office is in downtown San Francisco, but for some reason the ad thought I was in Union City (about 30 miles from here in the East Bay). See below:

I clicked through and landed on a landing page that asked me to confirm that I was in San Francisco (well at least the livingsocial website knew where I was this time, kinda). Still eager that perhaps now I would find the lobster I was looking for (at 70% off!!!), I looked through the deals, but alas, nothing. See the screenshot of the page I came to post sharing my email address. Not only did I waste my time visiting this site, but I also gave up potentially valuable information namely my email address expecting a very specific offer to be available. (thumbnail points to the deal page below)

My company works with several data providers, advertisers and creative companies to create ads that are actually localized and deep link to real products. To do it the right way is difficult. This stuff annoys me as a practitioner of online advertising, but more so really as a consumer. This is a total BS, deceptive ad; whether it comes from a Fortune 500 company, a highly regarded upstart, or some affiliate guy running ads out of his basement.