Have you ever visited a website or viewed a product and a few minutes later seen an ad on another website promoting what you had just seen? This type of advertising is called online ad targeting. But how do sites know what you’re viewing and when to advertise certain products. The process begins when you’re either on a website or shopping and your browser submits information about your activity to third party advertisers. The information is then store within a browser cookie which often times the website asks your permission to store. Once the you switch to another site that uses the same third party advertiser an ad with the product you just viewed will pop up in hopes that you will return back to the original site.
However there is a question around personal privacy and whether these ads are considered an invasion of users’ online history or information. The controversy revolves around third party cookies and the amount of information companies can compile from them. Critics say that these cookies are unethical because they can document a user’s entire browsing history. But it should be considered that ad revenue is the main reason why many websites are able to offer free access. Additionally advertisers are very cautious in terms of personal privacy due to the sensitivity of personal information. Lastly cookies can always be disable on sites that you are uncomfortable with documenting your information.