All advertising seeks to target the right products
to the right audience, and makes possible low- or
no-cost content and services. Most online ads aren't
matched to you as an individual, but to data categories
—such as demographics, interest groups, location,
or online behavior.
For as long as there’s been advertising, advertisers have aimed to target their ads to the right audience.
- Beer ads during football games, cosmetics in women's magazines, trailers for coming attractions in the theaters — these are all examples of advertisers targeting products and services to what they hope is the most suitable audience.
- Internet technology has since created new and sophisticated ways to target “the right message to the right person at the right time.”
- Today cookies are the tools that give advertisers insight. Before you worry about loss of privacy, remember that you have the choice to turn off targeting practices filtering cookies with your browser or opt out at http://www.networkadvertising.org/managing/opt_out.asp
Advertisers target ads by gauging the content you show interest in—including the sites you visit and the ads you click.
- Entertainment: If you spend a lot of time on online news entertainment pages, advertisers will assume you’re a good candidate to see an ad for the latest movie.
- Travel: Suppose you clicked an ad that offered low cost fares to the Bahamas. Advertisers may then assume that showing you an ad for a Caribbean resort makes sense.
When you go online, your Internet service provider (ISP) assigns your computer with a unique Internet Protocol (IP) address—such as 188.8.131.52. While this number reveals nothing personal about you to marketers and websites, it may indicate which area you've connected from (e.g., Chicago, IL) or which ISP you use.
how it works
- Location, location, location. A local dentist or pizza delivery service can, by geo-targeting their ads, deliver them only to people who reside in their local area—and are most likely to be customers. If an advertiser repairs cars in Chattanooga, he wouldn’t waste money and time advertising in Cleveland.
- Improved experience. When the ads you see are more relevant, you’re more likely to discover products and services that genuinely interest you.
When you register with a large portal or subscribe to certain sites, you're asked to share personal information—such as your age or gender. Of course, sharing this information is entirely up to you, and it’s always smart to protect yourself.
how it works
- Getting to know you. Sites use demographic data to learn more about you so they can deliver relevant content and ads. If you're a 30-year-old woman, and an advertiser hopes to reach female users aged 18 to 35, the site recognizes that you're “eligible” to receive ads from that particular advertiser.
- Meeting your needs. By helping advertisers reach the right audience, sites can supply you with a free email account, timely news, and other free online content and services you rely on.
Remember: your personal information is not shared unless you have already given permission. The advertiser only knows you fit into their criteria of “female, 18-35.”
Some companies specialize in a data-collecting process known as behavioral advertising, which matches ads to a consumer's interests, determined over time. Cookies—in this case behavioral ones—make this happen.
how it works
- As you surf. Imagine that you visit three travel sites and then a news site. You might see a travel ad on the news site, even though you're reading finance. That’s because your online behavior suggest your interest in travel.
- For you—not about you. These types of ads are delivered based on a computer's browsing history — not a specific individual's personal information.
- General information, not personal. Advertising networks go out of their way to avoid linking to any personally identifiable information such a name, address, phone number, email address, or credit card number.
- You have choices. You can opt-out of receiving behavioral ads if you're uncomfortable with the concept. Just follow the instructions provide here: http://www.networkadvertising.org/managing/opt_out.asp
- The advertising industry has taken steps to allow you to manage your information. Soon, you'll have even greater knowledge of which ads are based on your interest through behavioral advertising. Visit www.AboutAds.info for more information.