Have you ever heard of “behavioral” advertising? Well if you haven’t, you will, but you won’t. Huh?
Lemme explain. You get ads online all the time, of course. Most of the time, you don’t even look at them. And when you do look at them, a lot of the time you are completely uninterested in them.
The ad industry wants to make those ads more interesting to you, which is a good thing. But in order for them to make ads better for you, they have to know more about you. And they find out more about you by watching what you do on the Internet – they track where you go, what you look at, who you talk to. When they give you ads because of your behavior, that’s called “behaviorally targeted” advertising.
It sounds kind of creepy, doesn’t it? Most Americans – in any age group – do not like the idea of behavioral advertising. But the ad industry knows that it works, it actually does give you ads you like, that’s why they’re spending a billion dollars on it this year.
And they want to explain to you why you should accept behavioral ads. But since they know the idea is creepy, they don’t want to use the word “behavioral” anymore. Instead, they’re going to use different words and cute little symbols to explain the concepts to you in friendly terms. So you are going to hear about behavioral advertising, but you’re not going to hear the words “behavioral targeting” if they can help it.
I’m trying not to be cynical about this. I want to believe that there is a way for advertisers to use information about me to give me things I like, without making me feel violated. But I don’t believe that the right way is for the industry to decide how to treat my information. And I don’t want the government to decide for me either.
I want to decide for myself. I want to be in control of my own information. I want to know what they know about me. I want to be able to see it, change it, hide it from them if I want. Hey, I’m not a control freak – but it’s my stuff, shouldn’t I be the one who gets to watch the watchers? Shouldn’t you?