How I use targeted ads as a personal shopping assistant


There are medications that treat my ADHD symptoms, but they aren’t magic pills that can remind me of everything I’ve ever wanted, so I tend to look for ways to work with these symptoms rather than against them. . This is where my little publicity trick comes in. I see an ad for a sustainable clothing brand appear on my feed, I click on it to visit the site to make sure my interest is registered in the big database in the sky, and suddenly I’m will remember this brand the next time I open Instagram.

what goes around comes around

Eric Seufert, marketing analyst at Mobile development memo, tells me that the tactic I’m taking advantage of is called “retargeting,” which means the ads I interact with will end up in my social feeds because the companies running those ads see that I’m interested in them. That’s fine by me, but more privacy-conscious folks worry that it points to a more insidious pattern of Big Tech tracking your every move. Seufert explains that no singular data set — meaning your personal information in this case — is usually useful on its own.

Data used to target specific audiences is often aggregated into groups of people that are aggregated based on matching clicks, browsing history, and location. After this group analysis, advertisements are served specifically to this targeted audience. The data used to create these pockets of people is either anchored in behavioral patterns (like what you tend to click on) or personally identifiable information (like your address).

Seufert compared tracking behavioral patterns to getting a receipt at the grocery store — you own the receipt, but the store also uses a copy of it for later business decisions, like when and how often to restock an item. that you bought. For me, this retargeting helps me sift through the distracting noise of what I don’t want, and more often than not leads to an informed, thoughtful purchase instead of a reckless, wasteful purchase.

My doomed love affair with targeted ads came to fruition while planning my wedding. In case you didn’t know, there are A LOT of things you need to buy when planning an in-person wedding of 100+ guests, outfits to wear for your bachelorette party, your dress of rehearsal dinner and props for every event in between. For months I searched and searched and searched for shoes. Wedding shoes are almost universally stylish or outrageously expensive. I wasn’t particularly interested in what I found when I first searched the web, so I kept clicking interesting ads in hopes of finding the perfect pair. I fed the tracking tools with a constant stream of data about who I was and what I needed. Eventually, my Instagram ads made it clear that I was getting married. They then became my own personal marketer, providing me with targeted ads for unknown brands that I couldn’t have found on my own.

The intermediary shoe company of Alexandre Birman, Schutz made its way into my Instagram feed, and with that, my perfect wedding shoe found its way onto my feet. The shoes weren’t elaborate, but just the right thing – a pair of simple gold strappy sandals to perfectly complement the off-white pearls dress of my dreams. I religiously clicked on the ad for these shoes so they didn’t get lost in my long wedding to-do list. Finally, I went to the physical store, tried on the shoes and ordered them with enough time for the big day.

taking note

I’m sure people, especially those with ADHD or other neurodivergent tendencies, have more foolproof established reminder systems that they’d rather use. Handelman uses the Evernote app to collect his thoughts, for example. My method isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s consistent with the advice Handelman generally offers. Handelman often advises his patients to leave visual notes for themselves, such as placing medications out in the open to remind them to take them. Since I’m on social media more than I’d like to admit, targeted ads serve a similar purpose for me.

This is It is important to note that data brokers (companies that track your internet usage and sell or rent this information) sometimes indiscriminately share collected data with anyone willing to pay for it. Your behavioral profile could end up in the hands of law enforcement or bad actors like stalkers. Joe Root, data privacy advocate and advertising company co-founder Permutativesays it’s dangerous for companies to track your every move on the internet because “the scale of this tracking becomes very pervasive”.

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