Tracking, Privacy, and Lots of Data

  • I am somewhat concerned about how much of my online activity is being tracked to target me for ads.  Not that I have anything to hide from there.  But if they are tracking me for advertising, what else are they tracking me for?

    My father-in-law was a farmer.  Back in the day, we stopped at a farm supply to buy some of the things he needed.  Among them, saltpeter (I forget what for) and sulphur (to treat seed potatoes).  I joked that if he also bought a bag of charcoal, someone might be suspicious.  Now if that was done today online, would someone want to know that he might be formulating black powder?

    But if I look at this from the advertiser's perspective, I can't see why the advertiser is paying for some of these ads.  I already bought a widget from your company.  Why are you paying for ads for me to buy another widget?  When you know that no one needs more than one widget in their lifetime.

  • The ads are prepurchased, so it's not the company. It's the advertising medium that is broken here. There is no linkage from your purchase to the decision to show you an ad. That's completely from a profile.

    Now, if they stopped showing you ads when you purchased, I'd be truly terrified.

  • That was my point.  Why pay to advertise to me, when I may have already bought their product?

    Certainly the advertising program wouldn't know that, unless the company shared their sales data with them - and yes, that would be terrifying.

    Then why pay for ads at all?  In the hopes that if I hadn't decided to buy, that this new ad would convince me?  How likely is that?

    Of course, it's all no different than the school systems that mail fliers to me to enroll my children in their school - when my youngest turned 30 last year.

    I guess if you can't target accurately, just use a shotgun instead of a rifle, and you might hit something.


  • If you think advertising isn't effective, you're not aware of the world.

    It is hugely successful.

  • For me, with my android device, I like that I can turn off targeted marketing.  I forget where the setting is, but google allows you to disable it.  Turning it off makes all my google specific apps that have advertising show me a more random assortment of ads.  Unfortunately, this setting doesn't apply to all apps as anything that isn't using googles advertising framework result in targeted ads.

    With android app ads, 90-95% of the time, I am not even looking at my phone while the ad plays.  It is a means to an end.  USUALLY I load the ads to get a free thing in a game. There are also tricks you can do to remove ads in quite a few of the apps while still using them.  Downside is you need to re-apply those tricks after each update and they don't always work.  Scrabble is one where the tricks work great.  That game has far too many ads... I shouldn't see an ad after every turn in a game.

    I think the biggest challenge of removing targeted ads on a mobile device based on how much you want to pay for the device is that those are usually baked into the app itself, not into the phone.

    I do prefer the random ads on websites to the email ads though.  You buy a toilet on Amazon and the next few emails from Amazon are trying to help you with your new toilet collection.

    The other ads I find creepy are when my wife looks a thing up on a site from her account on her device and a few days later I am getting ads from that site for things she looked up.

    The above is all just my opinion on what you should do. 
    As with all advice you find on a random internet forum - you shouldn't blindly follow it.  Always test on a test server to see if there is negative side effects before making changes to live!

  • I was looking at some shoes a friend recommended the other day on my laptop. When I opened a game on android, an ad for the company was at the top. I don't usually look at the ads, but I noticed the logo.

    Also see that same thing now on blogs that have embedded ads. Crazy. Of course, I am going to buy some shoes 😉

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