Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Andrej Savin and Jan Trzaskowski
Chapter 16: Online marketing: advertisers know you are a dog on the Internet!
Consumers nowadays use the Internet as a means of purchasing goods and services as well as socialising through Twitter, Facebook and the like. From a place of complete anonymity, where nobody knew you were a dog, the Internet has become an advertiser’s paradise. Indeed, advertisers have rapidly responded to changing purchasing habits and harnessed technology to a point where it seems that all our lives are charted online, opened to marketers and the public. Today on the Internet, advertisers know you are a dog. A variety of marketing techniques has developed including keyword advertising, behavioural adverts (or ads that ‘get personal’), ‘adver-games’, ‘price comparison’ listings, ‘chat room’ promotionand more. As technology develops, advertising tools are getting more sophisticated, trying to anticipate consumer searches for products. ‘Profiling’, for want of a better word, dominates the latest advertising trends. While advertising used to be diffuse, messages are increasingly targeted. Google has built a business on the back of selling keywords enabling consumers searching for information to return tailored results. But online advertising goes further. It permeates consumers’ personal life, using browsing activity and endorsements via Facebook and other social media. Those platforms enable advertisers to benefit from mass-following and viral spread of messages. On Facebook alone, it is approximately a billion usersthat can be targeted collectively. Further, social media sites allow users to ‘provide up-to-date commentary about their daily activity’.
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