Perhaps in your online travels you’ve come across the term interest-based advertising. The concept is delivering advertising built on your search criteria. In the age of dead privacy this translated to me as: “We sell your search history to our advertising partners.” Whether or not you enjoy big wigs jamming their fingers into your browsing history it’s apparent that this is something here to stay.
It works in a few interesting ways, lets take YouTube. Whether you have an account or not, YouTube monitors what videos you’ve watch and recommends others based on your video search history. This is accomplished by keeping track of what you watch, but more specifically, the titling, description and tags associated with a video. These three labels function to categorize and place the viewer within a demographic. So say you watch a lot of adorable cat videos because why not.
Now you’ve just been labeled as a possible cat lover (You can thank me later). YouTube now considers all the information from that video, plus anything else that other YouTube-Cat-Lovers search. Suddenly you find your YouTube homepage covered in videos of kittens mewing various “Guns and Roses” songs with little sweaters on. This is not by chance or luck but by an absolutely genius method that’s powered effortlessly by the customer. Companies with cash can purchase this general search information to better figure how they can appeal to their customer. It works similarly to the demographic method used in deciding what time television programs will play. The internet is the 2.0 version allowing for even further silent survey. Personally I prefer it, especially when compared to the old frustrating pop-up routine which, if continued, would’ve caused my computer and I to brawl on regular occasion.
This new method of finding your ideal audience is what makes your simple online browsing as valuable as gold to companies. Facebook sells what you click “Like” on, to compile a list of ads. Google sells search information to sponsors, twitter tracks what it’s users post about. The internet is the new television, your singular click is observed by faceless giants firmly holding an attentive pen, suiciding back and forth across a wild shred of paper.