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To commence with, the companies are in the business of behavioural tracking without direct knowledge of the audience. The technology makes possible for companies to target consumers with personalized content, products and prices. For instance, advertisers simply throw up banner ads on high-traffic websites, behavioural tracking allows them to beam individually tailored ads, in real time, to users just as they land on a web page.
The decision to show an ad can be based on geographic location, content looked online or educated guesses about age, income and marital status. According to Joseph Turow (as cited in L. Gordon Crovitz, 2008), people don’t understand how the web works. So, it is necessary to understand the concept of behavioural tracking.
Further, the sudden rise in online tracking is being fuelled by growth of real time bidding exchanges like re-targeting, which is used by companies to optimize the sales and marketing. For example, A user arrives on a website, but doesn’t buy anything.
Before the user leaves, a cookie is dropped on the computer that records the product looked at. Later on, the user can be targeted with an ad for the same product somewhere else on the web. (Chris, 2012) This is how re-targeting works, which must be known by every user.
However, the positives of personalized web don't seem threatening as it suggests products one may be interested in. To cite an example, Amazon’s success is the sophisticated recommendation engine that suggests products you may be interested in. Apple uses similar tools to suggest songs on iTunes, while Facebook does it with friends (Chris, 2012). Therefore, internet has advantages which can benefit the users.
To conclude, the dark side of internet can track the activities by compromising the user's privacy with behavioural tracking or re-targeting to make profits but, in some cases, it can also be benefit for the users. Every internet user should keep in mind that each activity is being recorded and can be reflected back in their life either in positive or negative way. It would be better if every time the permission is asked to the consumer.
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