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Monday, February 20, 2012

Targeted ads and privacy in the cloud

I have been thinking of writing about Privacy concerns in the web for almost two months now. Last December when I was doing my research for business plan that we had to create as part of our course work, I landed into two sites: Wonga and Business In a Box. Afterwards it so happened that which ever website I visited, ads of these two businesses were displayed and it remained so for more than a week until I cleaned my cache and opted out of targeted ads. Although it took some time to notice that I am getting the same ads on every page I visited, I got irritated as soon as I realised it. That's why I did a small search about targeted ads and privacy issues that browsers bring about.

Most users doesn't care about targeted ads as a privacy issue and some are happy with it, because they often get more information, information that they need, from these ads. Companies are investing a lot in understanding their customers for marketing their products and there by tempting to buy their products. Don't be surprised to get an advert targeted specifically to you with your name on it as an internet banner or even an SMS.

Facts

  1. Network Advertising Initiative exists for a reason
  2. As does http://www.aboutads.info/

All internet ad providers (supposedly) work complying to the rules put forward by those two organisations. There is an option to opt out of targeted ads if you wish to do so.

Every one likes the idea of getting something for free, but seldom does one think that, if you are getting anything for free, you are the product being sold

We also have location based ads changes according to location. The ads that Youtube used to show me while I was in India, is entirely different from what I am getting in the UK. Everybody wants to know where you are, to give you targetted ads.

Very good articles on this topic can be found at following links

  1. Everyone is trying to track what you do on the web: Here's how to stop them
  2. Why privacy matters even if you have nothing to hide.
  3. Google Wants your wallet

Protect your privacy (to an extend) at the following links:

  1. http://www.aboutads.info/choices/
  2. http://www.google.com/settings/ads/
  3. http://www.google.com/settings/ads/onweb/

The other side of it

Internet ads has a very big picture in the revenue model of many companies. Many websites remain free to the end users, with support from advertisement, which are often targeted ones. There are other services and apps as well which serve for free supported by adverts. Read more on that here.

Online advertising is the most important revenue of Facebook. A female friend of mine only sees cute things on the ad space when she opens Facebook, which she is always tempted to click on. Whereas I see only technology and programming related stuff. It also changes based on your location, age group, profession and networks.

All of Google's services which are free for the users are backed by the revenue gained from targeted ads. If we all opt out of targeted ads, it may effect the balance of the internet eco system.

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