You may not realize this, but now you will. Advertisements are watching your every move. They’re tracking you before you realize that you are their target. They know when you’re sleeping, they know when you’re awake… they know if you’ve been bad or good (just kidding I’m sure they don’t I just like Christmas songs). As creepy as this sounds, this is what tracking is. Have you ever realized that when you’re on Facebook you see an advertisement on the side of the page displaying something that you might have been thinking of purchasing and researching about? Or maybe you are on YouTube catching up on your favorite beauty guru, video games specialist, video- blogger, etc. and realize that they’re advertising something that you’ve just been looking at a few days ago on Nike or Amazon or wherever you like to shop?
Well, you’ve guessed it. Advertisement companies are just creepy stalkers. I’m just poking some fun, don’t take it too seriously. This article posted on lifehacker.com is coining this tracking from ads to be called “behavioral targeting.” It sounds just like it should, advertisement companies are tracking your behavior. This article explains how sites are literally monitoring what you click on and this seems to be a specific thing that Google does. It is watching your behavior and trying to learn more about the person that you are. They are watching what links you click on, what you spend most time looking at, etc. What an effective way to advertise! Why not get to know somebody before you make the first move? Very sneaking Google, very sneaky.
How do they do it though? The lifehacker article says that when you visit a site, your browser accepts a cookie (not the kind you eat, though that would be nice) that kind of keeps record of your behaviors. Then third- party cookies from advertising companies use these cookies that you’ve had stored in your browser to advertise to you. The cookies are in a way seemingly working together to make the ads relevant to you. Don’t worry though, they apparently don’t know your personal information, just your searching behaviors or habits (still sounds pretty creepy though I might say so myself).
It all sounds a little daunting and confusing. Some people may not like the idea of companies tracking your every move online without knowing too much about the information that they actually have about you even if they claim to not know personal things. Companies need to make money somehow I suppose, but then this raises the question, why don’t they just advertise on their own site? Why do we need to be tracked and basically be force fed cookies? Some companies have actually acknowledged this and teamed up to create blocking for many of the advertising companies as described in this article posted on Business Insider. Not all companies will be ad-blocked out as is noted in the article, but this is an interesting option to help ease those whom are weary of this behavioral tracking technique.
No matter if you get ad-blocking tools, companies seem to be able to find you no matter what. This is pretty sketchy sounding and a little intimidating, but the web is growing. These technologies allowing for these interesting services and behavioral tracking are allowing companies to profit whether we like it or not. It doesn’t matter if we comply to the bait that they hang on the front of our computer screens, they will still track us and learn about our behaviors. So I guess, we will all just have to learn to eat the cookie.