For my final project I wish to explore the world of targeted advertising within the social media world. I became interested in this when I was applying for a job within the Leo Burnett Advertising company. On part of the application I was required to write a short essay on the use of targeted advertising in social media and why I believed it to be important and where I saw it going in the future. I didn’t have an answer and I still don’t have an answer, and this is why I am very interested in writing on this topic.
It’s scary to think that Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, and many other search engines and social media outlets are tracking every little thing you do. Every time you sign up for a social media outlet and provide your name, age, email, gender and geographic location, you are essentially profiling yourself to companies who can then target you with their ads. Search engines, such as Google, will track anything you search, even key words in your personal emails, anything they think might be valuable that they can then sell to advertisers to target you with ads. They do this in hopes that the ads they have selected to place on your sidebar will be a product or service that you will want. Advertisers no longer have to waste their time and money trying to advertise to the larger population. Now, advertisers can specifically target a smaller sample of people that are more likely to spend their money on the products and services.
For my research I want to look at both the consumer and the advertiser’s perspectives of the issues concerning targeted advertising. I want to focus on the rise of targeted advertising within the various social media outlets and how companies are legally or illegally tracking consumers’ information. What legislation is being made to limit consumer tracking and help ensure consumer privacy? I also want to explore how much companies are profiting over new targeted ads in comparison with older techniques of marketing and advertising. Do the benefits of targeted advertising outweigh the potential risks to consumer privacy?
Personally, I am frightened by the idea of my every move being tracked on the internet. However, from an advertiser’s perspective, targeted advertising is a gold mine. I don’t believe that targeted advertising is a threat to personal safety and privacy as long as the information taken is solely used for the purpose of advertising and isn’t distributed further to any outside third parties. The business of targeted advertising is complicated and must be examined through both the lens of a consumer and the lens of the advertiser in order to truly understand both sides of the issue.