Posted on March 20, 2018 by Aaron Johnson
Have you ever experienced a case where you talk about a certain product and the next thing you see online is an advert for the exact product? Many people have. The advancement in technology has brought diverse approaches to marketing. Targeted and user-generated advertising is one of such approaches although it has been around for a while. There are a lot of concerns that people should be careful with whatever they do online including signing the “Never-ending Terms and Conditions” which in most of the cases, nobody reads fully, and only rushes to click the “Accept” button. This article covers a comprehensive discussion on how social ads pop after people’s conversion, as well as the reason for such occurrences.
Digital marketing has brought new marketing approaches
It is an undeniable fact that the digital age is the cause of the new changes experienced in the way business market their services and products. A lot of advancement is notable in the manner in which advertising is carried out nowadays. Nevertheless, it is no doubt that online advertisements and the general approach to marketing have become so specific in comparison to the usual ads that you are used to seeing, which apparently, depending on your Google searches. There are many advertisements, which you will come across that have a close relation to the things that you have not searched online, any other time, but most likely, things you have had a conversation about. Such cases are common among users of the common social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. The only natural question when one sees adverts on things they have been talking about on phone is whether social media platforms are listening to their conversations.
Is social media targeted advertising based on our conversations?
With the seemingly endless social media platforms as well as the available customization options, the social advertisement is becoming a common way for brands to create awareness of their products and services. Such advertising approach is incredible profitable but requires the input of social media marketing experts to bring out the necessary aspects of social media ads for it to make the necessary impact as far as achieving the goals and objectives of a business is concerned. Nevertheless, the concerns about targeted advertising are becoming common. Why do the ads pop up after a conversation about the given product or service? Probably, there are several reasons to account for such events but the most plausible ones are two –one, the possibility that companies are eavesdropping on conversations that people make through mobile microphones, or two, there are sophisticated algorithms in use.
Do you think about the information you leave online?
The online space is full of all sorts of people and machines. Some machines are data-hungry and in spite of this, we keep feeding them with sensitive information without being cautious of what happens when we are logged out of the online platforms. Some of the machines have tracking capability and troll on you and the information you feed them. The increased use of tracking applications such as the GPS and other apps is to blame for some of these leakages. Did you know that your phone could keep a track of your location and conversation details? The information that you manually input on the devices you use everyday can be a significant way to which companies can track what you really need next. The devices we use every day know much about our daily patterns.
For the past years, there have been cases of reports on social media platforms being suspect to spy and listen to people’s conversations via microphones installed on mobile phones. While such actions are at times done for good reasons, the challenge comes in when we do not know the percentage of such information shared with the world. Specifically, how do these companies learn about our conversations?
The first assumption is that the companies sending out targeted ads learn of our conversations is that they are listening to people’s conversations through the phone’s microphones. In spite of this, Facebook and Google have, in the past rejected the clams that they use our phone’s microphones to listen to our conversations and later created targeted ads. Nevertheless, the rejection of such claims is not an assurance that it does not happen. According to a report by Terra Ferma Media, Google listens and records all the conversations for people with android phones. Perhaps, the same is happening to Apple users. In 2016, Facebook issued a statement to deny the allegations that it does not listen to people’s conversations to create newsfeed or targeted ads. Considering the fact that Google owns Google Maps and YouTube, while Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp, it is no doubt that these two companies have many details about the users of any of these social media platforms. If need be, they can use such information for their own benefit.
All social media platforms are based on algorithms. For example, Twitter is known to run on a fast algorithm, which shows trending issues depending on several rules such as the number of people engaging the conversations about certain topics. The same concept of the algorithm might be in play in the other social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, etc. Have you seen a case where Facebook classifies your friends depending on how close they are? In such a case, it bases such categorization on the interactions you have with your friends on Facebook. Perhaps, you have a close way of thinking with your friends, which implies that you and your friends will tend to have interest in similar topics, events, etc. The assumption here is that, whatever topics your friends are hiding, liking, reading, or searching, and making follow ups, could be of similar interests to you, and hence Facebook and other related social media will show you such ads related to your close friends’ searches. This is how clear social targeted advertising works.
On the other hand, it is not possible to overlook the wealth of information companies advertising through social media have regarding their target audience. With such information, it is possible for these companies to do selective adverts depending on people’s interests, their gender, location, etc. Undoubtedly, such are the approaches that companies are using to make targeted advertisement on social media platforms.
So, what conclusion can we have? Google and Facebook, the two internet giants have denied their involvement in social media targeted adverts, but it is still hard to believe it. On the part of the use of a clever algorithm, there are a few aspects that make the highest contribution. First, there is a possibility that the sophisticated algorithms that the majority of the social media companies use can collect data from people’s close groups and use it to predict one’s preference. Secondly, companies that advertise on social media platforms have a wealth of data on social media users, enough to make targeted advertisements based on certain characteristics. Thirdly, it is likely that social media platforms store data regarding the habits of the users and use it to make customized adverts. Despite the fact that it might be hard to come to a comprehensive answer about why social media ads pop after conversations, it suffices that the combination of the above three factors plays a significant role in targeted social ads. While, Google and Facebook might have denied their involvement in listening to our conversations, it is not like they would shout that they are really doing it to make their advertisement. So what can we do? We are not going to stop talking or avoid searching information and products online but be cautious. After all, there is no harm in getting targeted ads. The only harm is the thought of your information being used in the wrong way. It is important, though, to be careful about the sites you leave your sensitive data with.