Have you ever been looking at an item online and then you start to notice that item popping up in Facebook ads? You may have thought at one time (like I did) “oh my gosh, how crazy!” Turns out, it’s actually not crazy and it’s not a random coincidence, you are just a walking target for advertisements.
We are all walking targets, and marketers delight in that! When we search for things online, that information is used to direct similar ads at us in the future, in order to persuade us to go back to that site and potentially make a purchase. There are advertisements all over the internet, but social media sites like Facebook have only recently started strategically targeting ads towards their consumers.
Does the fact that social media sites have started this trend make it ethical? That’s up for debate. I recently looked for an item on eBay and afterwards went on Facebook. The first thing that popped up was an eBay ad that said “still looking for this?” and it was a picture of the item I had just looked at moments before. At first I felt like my privacy had been invaded, but after careful consideration I didn’t necessarily believe that this marketing practice was wrong or unethical. I know what I search for and what I put on the internet is there forever, it would only make sense that marketers started advertising things that they know I am interested in.
Our world is changing; we live in a social media rich time where online purchases and transactions are becoming the ‘norm’ and if companies and marketers didn’t take advantage of this it would be a waste. My take is that whether we think it is ethical or not… it’s happening, so we had all better smarten up with our internet usage, because you never know who may be watching!