Stop following me! Or targeted ads

Have you been in such a situation when you visited a web site and after this quick 5 minutes check you are haunted by this brand’s ads everywhere you go on the web? Annoying, right? That is actually called targeted advertising.

Targeted advertising is a form of advertising where online advertisers can use sophisticated methods to target the most receptive audiences with certain traits, based on the product or person the advertiser is promoting. These traits can either be demographic which are focused on race, economic status, sex, age, the level of education, income level and employment or they can be psychographically focused which is based on the consumer’s values, personality, attitudes, opinions, lifestyles, and interests.

According to Toubiana et al. (2010), online behavioral advertising (OBA), also called online behavioral ad targeting, has began in the late 1990s. DoubleClick used 3rd party cookies to track users across sites and presented ads based on the user’s browsing patterns. Nowadays OBA is a large and complex industry where entire exchanges trade user information specifically for the purpose of better ad placement. This means that if you visit a certain website, it will follow you on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and what’s more – on your every device! In fact, there is a real-life example, which makes me feel uncomfortable using my own gadgets: today at 19:30 i was checking out from my mobile and spend a few seconds more staring at 2 particular items. Now I see them popping up in my Facebook news feed! That is kind of scary. I can’t say that by seeing this ad I feel motivated to buy those items, or it makes me question if I really want those things. It only makes me feel spied by intrusive ads of H&M and decreases my loyalty to this brand.

To make a long story short, targeted advertising raises privacy concerns. Targeted advertising is performed by analyzing consumers’ activities through online services such as cookies and data-mining, both of which can be seen as detrimental to consumers’ privacy. In other words, companies monitor what you do, where you go, who you interact with and what your interests are. They do it privately and securely, and it’s all automated so that no human being actually learns anything about you. And then the online world becomes customized, just for you. The ads are always the things you want to buy. The services are just what you’re looking for. But does it really works the way it was designed?




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2 thoughts on “Stop following me! Or targeted ads

  1. Avatar Alevtyna Chernykh says:

    Hey hey))
    I definitely agree with you! These targeting ads are just the most annoying thing ever! However, recently, I began to see two sides of this coin. First, it makes me and, I’m sure, other people angry, because you see same things all the time. In fact, this might create a filter bubble, where all the content you get online is something you have already searched for. In result, we are not developing, in terms of knowledge, because we are always getting same or similar things to what we already know or have already seen. Though, on the other side, sometimes it becomes really helpful. For example, you have seen some nice bag and you just completely forgot, where you’ve found it. And you’ll be really lucky, if you will be targeted by this store and eventually that bag will find you as a targeted add on Facebook! At least I just had such situation and I was quite happy to be targeted by ads.

  2. Avatar Myriam Kijowski-Tran says:


    Really scary article, but I totally understand it. In fact I experienced exactly the same thing with H&M: before Christmas I was searching for a nice top that I saw on someone else. By going through their websites, I finally found 3 different articles on which I spent lot of time looking at which out purchasing any of them, as I prefer to go directly to the physical shop to buy clothes. Since now, I have constantly those adds on my Facebook page or other websites where the OBA is used. I think the OBA could be unpleasant for customers like us (even, if I don’t really mind that) but could help a lot companies on targeting new customers. By seeing every some articles, some people change their mind on the product and finally change their mind. My only recommendation for brands using this technology, that anyway will never disappear, is to make a balance on how many time people can see those products and a balance on how long. It could remove the feeling of being hunted down, in the minds of consumers and that stop to buy from them. A good balance in the OBA would give them a reminder unconsciously without destroying the brand image.

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