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Online Behavioral Advertising Essay

895 words - 4 pages

A person clicks on an online news article, quickly scans over its title, then continues to peruse the article. However, the person has missed something above the header—an advertisement that showcases what the person was looking for before. Or perhaps, the advertisement is not even there at all because of the person’s AdBlock program. In any case, people are less prone to notice such advertisements. If they do, they would be filled with understandable concern; online behavioral targeting (OBA) can take advantage of and discriminate unknowing consumers, the data sent to the companies may not only be used for advertising, and people feel that OBA invades their privacy as well. Online behavioral tracking is not only discriminating and useless, but it intrudes users’ privacy as well.
Some companies may presume upon behavioral advertising for extra money or benefits, and in the process, discriminate people with prices as well. For example, if a company discovers that a user is diagnosed with an illness, they may place health care advertisements on the websites the person visits. The company could raise the prices of the health insurance presented on the sites. In fact, ENISA expresses, “Price discrimination has a long history and is a common practice today” (“Privacy Considerations of Online Behavioural Tracking”). Companies also take advantage of more vulnerable consumers, such as younger children, who usually lack a sufficient amount of judgment. They will often target the younger audience with spurious advertisements, in hopes of acquiring profit. Because of online tracking, companies are able to gain more money while conning people in the process.
Behavioral advertising is extremely inept and ineffective. When an individual clicks on something of interest, cookies are automatically sent to the website and the computer retains the memory of the person’s interests. However, after a few years, the person may not find it enthralling anymore but will still see ads for it, thus remaining a victim of OBA. Personalized advertisements lack practicality—it cannot detect a person’s change in activity. In addition to missing common sense, the computer also cannot differentiate between other people who may be using it. As stated by cbsnews.com, “Tracking technology still has trouble distinguishing multiple people using the same computer” (“What Is Behavioral Targeting?”). This ultimately results in an unintentional mess; one person may see advertisements exhibiting another individual’s interests. Tracking users through advertisements is clumsy, and may not always serve the purpose that the company wishes it to. Additionally, advertisements that have embedded tracking in them are nearly always obliterated when one has installed an ad-blocking system—it simply defeats the entire purpose of advertising. According to digiday.com,...

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