An addicted insider’s account of our real lives in the era of the realtime, social web.

How Did Advertisers Figure Out I’m a Broken Freak?

Aren’t you getting a little tired of consistently seeing ads for Cialis, anger management courses, inflatable Bozo clowns, voodoo dolls representing particularly active internet commenters, pot vaporizers, Twitter twelve-step programs, and the Palazzo Hotel in Vegas? Oh wait, maybe that’s just me. Actually, because of the targeting that advertisers do, it’s definitely just me.

We’re all being tracked as we browse the web. Advertisers use that data to target the right offers to the right people.

In a recent poll, about 70% of respondents indicated that they don’t think internet advertisers should be allowed to target ads based on users’ web browsing habits.

Younger Internet users were less opposed to targeted ads than older people. Still, just 34% of respondents 18 to 34 years old said they wanted advertisers to track them. Only 26% of those 55 and older supported the practice.

There are a variety of efforts (technological and legislative) aimed at placing limits on the tracking performed by advertisers.

It’s always difficult to accurately poll these issues. On one hand, no one likes the idea of being tracked. On the other hand, we’re happy when sites like Amazon and Netflix serve up stuff that we’re more likely to enjoy.

And we want all of our favorite sites to remain free. That depends in part on web ads being effective.

For now, if you want to see what your browsing habits say about you, just pay attention to the graphical ads you see over and over across many of the sites you frequent.

I’m Not Home and My Lock is Broken

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My name is Dave Pell, internet superhero. This blog provides an addicted insider's account of what's happening to us in the era of the realtime, social web. You can read more about the site, grab the rss feed, follow me on twitter, join the Facebook page, or get email updates.