Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Owl Pellet Economy

I rarely click on ads in Gmail. But when I saw this...

Extra Large Owl Pellet -  - For the price of a regular In stock now

...I had to know if it was real. It is, which brings us to today’s lesson in unlikely reality: People buy owl pellets—that is, feces—to examine what the owls ate.

For example, $24 buys you item P41: “A Gallon of Possibilities: Small pellets and fragments, heat-treated and unwrapped. We found over 100 skulls in an average gallon.”

Don’t think it stops at pellets. There are cross-sells aplenty: pellet kits for the classroom, “bone sorting sheets,” posters, and videos.

And don’t think this purveyor of owl pellets is alone. The landing page says, “Anyone buying owl pellets has many choices. Just try searching ‘owl pellet’ and the options are baffling!”

Sure enough, a search for “owl pellets” has more than 100,000 results and 11 sponsored links. By comparison, I searched “ipod” and got 6 sponsored links.

So there you have it, the owl pellet economy. Someone tell Steve Jobs he’s addressing the wrong market.

[Postscript: Why did I receive the ad in the first place? The message that triggered the ad included an analogy about an entrepreneur friend’s taking a company “from the seed to the oak tree.” That’s the only thing remotely connected to owls or owl pellets. However, the fact I clicked the link rewarded Gmail’s wacky ad targeting. So if you start seeing owl pellet ads, it’s my fault for egging them on.]

1 comment:

  1. I know this blog post is many years old, and possibly someone has told you by now, but Owl Pellets are NOT feces. Rather they are indigestible remains of an owls' food, hence the bones, that have been regurgitated into a not so neat pellet.