Slowly, I think this card is coming into its own and getting the respect it deserves. It's not for every deck, but it's definitely for some.
For those of you who doubt the one true advertising god, imagine this hypothetical card:
0 - Operation: Current - NBN (*)
Name a card. The Runner cannot play or install that card.
Ridiculous and overpowered, right? But what experience has shown us is that Targeted Marketing often has the same effect as the above card. 10 is a ridiculous sum of money to just hand over to the corporation, even to unlock your best card, and many runners will only make that sacrifice if it's a difference between life and death.
Thus, Targeted Marketing's function in your deck is not to gain you money, but rather, to gain you tempo. It's the closest Netrunner has gotten us (though Snatch and Grab is close) to an unlimited corp tool for screwing around with the runner, until the runner scores an agenda or finally snaps, and the longer the runner is put off from getting their engine running, the longer you have to prepare for the midgame.
But before you go shoving it into every deck you have, a few things to keep in mind about the one true advertising god:
- While you will rarely get the 10 bounty from TM, it's best to play it in a deck that can put that money to maximum nasty threat and also benefit most from the tempo gains it can offer. So far, it seems this often means combo decks - after all, 10 is more than enough to fast-advance out an agenda with almost enough for the Cyberdex Virus Suite security plan, and often will be enough to break trace parity for Punitive Counterstrike/SEA SourceMidseason Replacements. While I haven't tried TM in classic glacier decks yet, I have to think it won't pay sufficient dividends.
Playing TM well doesn't just require knowing your opponent's deck archetype and the likely inclusions that deck has, but what role they're looking to play at different stages of the game and what roles you need to keep them from playing for as long as possible. In other words, naming the right card requires understanding the entire game-state, which many players (especially newer players) don't do well. For example, the Reina Headlock deck is very reliant on its economy engines to push it out of the early game and start really grinding the corp into the dust - that means cards like Sure Gamble, Daily Casts, Liberated Accounts, Earthrise Hotel, Career Fair, and Kati Jones. That's a lot of targets! And then consider the cards that a deck like Headlock plays that really give you headaches - cards like Vamp, Clone Chip, Crescentus, their breaker suite, etc.
There are two takeaways from this point. First, don't worry about picking the absolute right card. Chances are good they won't have a copy in your hand right when you play TM. That's fine; you're investing in the next few turns, not just this one. And second, know what you want. That sounds like a silly koan, but the truth is, it's very easy in Netrunner to make plays just because they "give value". Like clicking for credits or drawing cards you don't need because "you'll need them eventually", or playing ice you can't even afford to rez, or reinforcing a server the runner won't be able to get into for a while, not knowing what you want at that particular point of the game and how best to get it is the easiest way for Netrunner players - runner and corp - to cede tempo for no reason. So too with TM.
When you play the card, you should always ask yourself: what do I want? How do I get it? How does the runner stop me from getting it? How do I stop him from stopping me? So in the first few turns against Reina Headlock, you should probably name an economy card over Vamp or another scary card, even though the latter cards will have a greater impact on the game as a whole. What matters is the present. If you take away their money now, it may well be they'll never be able to afford that Vamp at all.
Likewise, TM offers one interesting contrast with other currents in giving the corp an incentive to occasionally replace it with a new target. This is something you should be willing to employ, but remember: playing TM, or even just including it in your list, is adding a speed bump to your deck, because it doesn't do anything by itself; its entire benefit to the game stems from how much it frustrates your opponent. So every time you play TM, but especially when you replace one, you need to be willing to ask yourself, "is this even worth the click?" If your opponent will be hassled less than a click's worth of tempo, or you could get better tempo advantage with another play, don't be seduced by the fact that TM is "free" and "could be 10". It's neither of those things.
And that in turn points to one of the paradoxes of TM: you'll almost never perceive the ways it's helping you win. All you can do is put it in your deck and try to feel the waves of rage emanating from your opponent. Wear sunscreen.