Have you ever felt as though advertisers are following you, as if they know what you’re interested in even before you do? As technology advances, so does the ability for companies to reach their consumers. This includes the sense that advertisers are looking over our shoulders. In a way it’s because they are, using Ad Tracking or the less frightening term “Interest Based Ads”.
For example, have you ever shopped for something on Amazon, then moved on to another webpage only to find ads similar to what you had just been shopping for? Google accumulates your search history and then using keywords identifies what ad opportunities may appeal to you. In this way they can attempt to predict what ads you will be most receptive to. This, in turn, benefits both the company (in this case Amazon) as well as Google, who Amazon pays to track and acquire your web history. However, Google then shares your data with other companies, as well. If you searched on Amazon for designer kitchen faucets, you can expect to see a few Delta faucet ad in the near future, in addition to other similar Amazon listings. In order to accomplish this, Delta Faucet has identified its keywords such as sink faucet, kitchen faucet, and other competitive words, which Google monitors along with your search history to help market ad-based products more effectively to you. So when you search on Amazon for a fancy faucet, you trigger both Amazon and Delta faucets keywords.

Facebook is also using ad tracking abilities utilizing keyword monitoring. However, due to the user increased participation with the social media site, Facebook is a little more extensive. Facebook gathers data not just on keywords, but also on user imputed information, such as favorite home decor brands. Furthermore, they can track interests based on the things a user “likes”. If you “liked” the new design from Florida Tile and you have counter tops listed as an interest, you will probably see ads based around tile and granite products. Facebook also has plans to integrate data from outside pages with attached Facebook apps. If you go to Kaiser Corp, a floor and countertop company website, this would also be used to direct ads towards you. Not only would you have ads for new tile products but also for installation companies.

Now this may seem like an invasion of your privacy, especially given that both Google and Facebook do not honor the ‘do not track’ setting on your web browser. However, Facebook has anticipated this and in the process of upgrading their ad tracking system, they have also given the user the option to turn off all add tracking within Facebook. This is done through the account settings menu. However, as stated above, in the near future they will be using data from other websites equipped with Facebook add ons and apps, which will likely track your web browsing even if you’re not on Facebook’s site.

The changes coming to the Internet and the world of online marketing will undoubtedly make people feel uncomfortable, especially given the recent media attention around information/privacy invasion. However, I have both a challenge and a solution to that mentality. I challenge you to think of ad tracking not as a tool for ad companies to better market their audience, or for Google to make more money, instead, I suggest you view it as an extension of customer service. Google is providing you a customer service by giving marketers the correct and accurate information with which to market you. The same way that Dal Tile would not profit from advertising on Cartoon Network, neither will a company profit from providing you with irrelevant ads. Therefore Ad Tracking is a customer service in that it ensures you see ads specifically tailored to you that, at the very least, waste less of your time and may actually be useful. Internet advertising will always exist, rather than fighting it, it seems easier to let it work for you. I would rather see ads tailored to my interest, than random ones that do not pertain to me at all.

~ Kyle Griffith, guest blogger

About Kleber & Associates
Kleber & Associates is an Atlanta-based integrated marketing communications agency serving the home and building products industry for 27 years. Visit the Kleber & Associates website for the latest news and information about marketing for home and building products for consumers, architects, builders, remodelers, designers and manufacturers. Through our marketing, advertising, public relations and digital marketing expertise — we build better brands that build a better home.