Online ads – we’ve all seen them, and we’ve all been in situations where we’re left baffled at what’s being advertised to us. The technology behind online ads is some of the most intriguing and worrying in the modern age. How are they able to predict your likes so accurately, displaying adverts for things you’ve seemingly only been thinking about?!
Furthermore, what does the future hold for the online advertising industry? Will the technology become even more refined, leading to more accurate adverts? What does this mean for our personal data – can we ever truly feel safe knowing that companies know so much about us?!
How do online ads target you?
You browse a website or social media app, and you see adverts for things that you’re interested in. How do the ad platforms do this? Well, they call upon various methods of data collection. For one, they look at your browsing history to see what you’ve been clicking on. Then, they look at your search history to see what you’ve been searching for. In many cases, they also track your purchase history to look at what you’ve been buying. Many other habits are taken into account, and the platform analyzes this information in seconds, pinpointing the type of ads that will appeal to you based on the data collected.
When you think about it, it’s incredibly impressive. Doing this for one person is more than impressive, but these platforms are doing it for every single internet user at the same time. The ability to extract and analyze data, presenting accurate ads in seconds, is incredible. It’s a type of artificial intelligence and automation that we don’t tend to think about, but it works really well.
What does the future hold for online ads?
We are already seeing some possible trends that the future will hold. One involves the concept of data wars. Here, companies are basically fighting over your data, deciding who has the right to extract it and use it. The BrandTotal lawsuit is the highest-profile example of this right now, with Facebook suing BrandTotal for an extension that takes data from its platform. BrandTotal argues it’s perfectly legal to do so, and they are simply taking the data to provide insights for customers.
This type of thing will become more and more common as ad agencies compete with one another. It leaves us in a very weird position where our data is being fought over, yet we don’t really have a say in the outcome at all.
Additionally, online ads are going to get more intelligent. We have already seen through smartphones that different applications use your location data and microphone to create ads. That’s right, apps like Instagram will hear you talk about a product, then advertise it to you almost immediately. Expect more advancements like this to ensure you’re presented with ads that appeal to you.
Should we be worried or excited about online ads?
In truth, we should be a bit of both. It’s cool to have relevant adverts that might open our eyes to new things we could buy. However, there’s definitely an element of personal invasion about the way in which our data is used to create online ads. Is this just going to get worse with time? While the technology is certainly intriguing, there’s no denying that it is also very worrying.