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Data Abuse: From Online Tracking To Re-Targeting – A Glossary Of Terror

Data Abuse: From Online Tracking To Re-Targeting – A Glossary Of Terror
| Editorial Staff

Online marketing experts are trying to reach online customers efficiently and to spread advertising messages as precisely as possible.  What makes sense from a marketing perspective is to target advertising as accurately as possible, however, for you as an Internet user this interferes with your privacy.

Because the basis of personalized advertising is online tracking – the collection of large amounts of potentially confidential data that creates a very accurate personality profile for you.  The following glossary explains what online marketing terms such as “tracking”, “behavioral targeting” or “real-time advertising” mean for you and your data and your wallet.

Cookies and Tracking: Mark and Track

Cookies sound delicious but can be a sticky issue.  They are part of a whole range of online tracking techniques that allow you to be tagged and later recognized on other websites – even across devices.  Many of these marking techniques are so sophisticated that they are not quickly deleted and they can also potentially recover after deletion.

Basically, cookies or other techniques do not automatically endanger your privacy unless they are used to create cross-user user profiles.  Cookies are therefore not dangerous per se, without them many functions would not be feasible – such as shopping carts in online shops.  One of the hazardous techniques of online tracking is the one that puts vendors content on your hard drive, which you can barely defend yourself.

Tracking has nothing to do with hiking – unless you like being hunted while hiking!  Online tracking systems are your constant companion along your journey through the internet, without you noticing.  These systems store all the information you have retrieved on the Internet in your user profile.  But as long as you are only tracked by the visited website, and your data is not passed on to third parties, this is relatively unproblematic for your privacy.

It gets a bit aggressive when online tracking technologies spy on you through so-called third-party vendors and thus across all visited websites, which is the rule rather than the exception.  Third-party services, such as Google Analytics, not only derive your buying interests from your browsing habits, but also whether you are planning to take out a loan, which political direction you are in, or what is the state of your health.

The Goldmine of Online Marketing: User Profiles

User profiles are the treasure of online marketing.  For example, they are formed by Google and Facebook and linked to you if you have a Google or Facebook account.  Many websites use services like Google Analytics or Facebook social plugins.  At the same time, these services report back to the Internet companies all the pages you are viewing.  So they will have a comprehensive personality profile of yours, this may even contain your mouse movements or keystrokes.

Has your personality ever been auctioned?  Today live bidding occurs where your info is literally sold; advertisers are monitoring you and your profile in real time.  Websites auction your information as potential customers in milliseconds to the highest bidder.  The one who places the highest bid on your profile may deliver his advertisement to you.

Déjà Vu Effect Through Online Tracking: When the Ad Haunts You

Retargeting is an example of real-time bidding.  It’s about tracking lost customers on the Internet and promoting them with products they’ve already looked at.  Retargeting thus makes it possible to recognize visitors at a shopping website on third-party websites and to display recently viewed products as advertising.  As a result, you will see the same advertisement for a product on different sites, which will then literally track you.

An example you have researched a remedy for bladder weakness in an online pharmacy, but you didn’t complete a purchase.  Now, the online pharmacy can use Google’s retargeting system to ask how much it will cost them to advertise to you for bladder weakness products.  If, for example, a pharmaceutical manufacturer makes the highest bid for you, their advertising will be displayed.

Behavioral targeting sounds dangerous, and it actually is, because behind it is nothing else than the exact analysis of your surfing behavior in terms of optimal advertising performance.  For advertisers, behavioral targeting is a welcome method for targeting a user based on their surfing behavior and predicted preferences.  Online tracking allows your individual behavioral profile to be continuously growing.

In order to win you as a buyer, online advertising will tailor to your interests based on the information they collect.  For example, if you have frequently searched for tips on financing in a search engine, you will, therefore, see online credit advertising on other websites.

Data Trackers

How Online Tracking Affects Displayed Prices

Dynamic Pricing is a waitress selling you more expensive coffee just because you’re well dressed.  But that’s precisely how online shops use online tracking.  Based on your profile data, your purchasing power will be calculated, and you will get a price quote that maximizes the dealer’s profit.  Often you’ll pay more than you would without the data collected.  For example, you want to order a pair of headphones, as you are online using your iPad you are easily recognized by your device profile as an Apple user.  Since your purchasing power is higher than that of an Android user, you’ll see a higher price than someone researching the same product on a PC.

This type of online tracking is just one example of how the increasingly more detailed profile has a tangible impact on the user.  Personality profiles can affect the cost of health insurance, interest rates and potentially future fees on loans.

If you want to make sure that your privacy is protected on the Internet and help block the creation of a deep personality profile about you, use the eBlocker – the smart solution hides the IP address and blocks data-gathering trackers and advertisements – for all devices in your home network.

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