Media Criticism Spring 2012

Part 1: Deconstructing Super Bowl Ads

Get Your Eye on the Target, and Shoot!

Posted on | April 25, 2012 | No Comments

Do you ever wonder why certain advertisements pop up on the side of your webpage? Has it ever occurred to you that the advertisements are directed right at you? It’s almost as if the company promoting the product knows that you may be interested in what they are selling. Well here’s a reality check, they do. Your computer tracks everything you explore online from looking up great deals on vacations to viewing used cars off of CarMax. Companies are now taking advantage of these findings and targeting you based on what you type into a search bar. How exactly are they able to do this? Hold your breath, because you may be in awe at how far along the technology world has come.

Cookies is a program designed on everyone’s computer that consists of files stored into your hard drive making it possible to identify who you are if you have ever registered with an online site before. Cookies has a unique ID assigned to each computer so as soon as you start entering in your personal information onto a website, you will then be tied to that ID. Once you are connected by your PC to a web server, it makes knowing your name on any webpage as simple as reciting the ABC’s. Through the use of cookies, websites are able to welcome you into their domain by your name instead of as just another number.

The one downfall is that if you have never given out any details about yourself, then companies are only able to track what your computer does. They have absolutely no way of finding out who the person is sitting behind the keyboard, which makes it difficult for companies when they are trying to advertise to prospective buyers. Lots of users to one computer can be hard and somewhat confusing. Not knowing who exactly someone is can result in a company advertising to the wrong person and being ignored.

Behavioral targeting is what companies are doing through the use of cookies. Behavioral Targeting is when information is constantly collected after being found from an individual’s web-browsing behavior, and is used in order to select which advertisements should be exhibited to that person. If you return to a website that you have been on multiple times before, cookies will be able to determine that based on your recent history and record it. In time, your computer will have a pretty good idea of what your top viewed websites are because of the number of visits made, the items you have been searching, and how close you have come to actually making a purchase. At this point, companies can finally step in and take over. It is a company’s dream after all to be able to know who’s interested in their products and when a consumer is thinking about or is ready to purchase something. Thanks to cookies, now they can!

Highly developed software tools, such as cookies, can allow marketers to alter web ads that pop up on peoples screen while browsing on different websites. Whether someone is on Facebook, WordPress, Google, etc. they will definitely come across a product that catches their attention due to all their online behavior. Since the advertisements displayed are generated by a consumer’s demonstrated interests, behavioral targeting has provided companies with strong, more promising sales leads. Thus allowing marketers to post relevant ads just about anywhere and everywhere they can imagine within a network of websites.



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