Ever wondered how online advertisers suggest things on your social media feed to buy products that you are really interested to buy? For example, the shoes that you were checking out on amazon the day before comes up on your Facebook feed the very next day? Well, let me introduce you to targeted advertising.
It is almost impossible to ignore ads online. Every page we click, every website we visit, and even on our mobile apps we are constantly bombarded with ads but we’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring them. So, the ad world had to be creative to make us click on these ads. Therefore, to win back our attention, advertisers have adapted to our digital viewing habits by remembering what we read and buy online, then using this information to sell us things they think we might like.
What is Targeted Advertising?
Simply put, targeted advertising is a form of online advertising that focuses on the specific traits, interests, and preferences of a consumer. Advertisers discover this information by tracking your activity on the Internet.
To elaborate, let’s say you visited the Amazon site for a pair of white sneakers. In order to keep track of your visit, the website, in this case, Amazon creates a file called a cookie on your computer. Later, when you’re reading an article online or surfing the internet, automated advertisements read this cookie and generate ads for items related to your Amazon visit, in your case different types of sneakers of different brands you might like.
Aside from cookies, advertisers can learn about your preferences and habits through other ways too like checking your search engine history. Targeted advertising is the most effective way to reach your desired audience and increase conversions.
Invasion of Privacy?
So now you might be wondering but wait, isn’t this an invasion of my privacy? To that I say, there is no hiding place when you are surfing the internet. Everything that you do on the internet can be tracked like search engine queries, the websites you visit, the links that you click, and your social media updates. If you ask me, just assume that somebody is watching you whenever you are on the internet so that you are not taken aback later. In simpler terms, assume that nothing you do online is private.
Moreover, if you think about it, would you rather see ads relevant to you or of no use to you? Instead of showing you the sneakers you need or want to buy, would you rather they show you “how to invest in stock market” ads assuming you have no interest in the latter.
How Can We Avoid This?
If you are getting bothered by these ads you can surely disable them, there are several methods to disable these targeted ads. You can simply use an ad blocker in your browser to stop seeing these ads. There are several free ad blockers available as a browser extension, which will do a fine job. Meanwhile, some websites only show their content to those who disable the ad-block. Because Google Ad Sense (Getting paid for showing ads on your website) is the main revenue for those sites. One other way is to go to your browser settings and clear all cookies(which are located in the history section in most browsers) also you can block cookies from all websites if you are very concerned about these personalized ads. Make sure you share very fewer data in your social media profiles so that the ads won’t get your data to target you.
Now that you understand how targeted advertising work on the internet you should not be surprised next time when the watch you wanted to buy ‘magically’ appears on the web pages you visit.