Who Do Online Advertisers Think You Are?

Image: Edward del Rosario

Image: Edward del Rosario

“Should we worry about ads aimed specifically at us everywhere we go on the Web and, increasingly, on our mobile devices too? Yes, and not just because the ads can be invasive and annoying. Real-time bidding also makes the online marketplace less of an even playing field, allowing companies to send loyalty points or discounts — or price increases — to individuals based on their perceived spending power. The travel site Orbitz, after learning that Mac users spend 30 percent more on hotel rooms than P.C. users, has started to send Mac users ads for hotels that are 11 percent more expensive than the ones that P.C. users are seeing, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. […]

As our experiences become customized, there is more at stake than just discount coupons and deals. There’s also the future of our common culture. As personalization shapes not only the ads we see and the news we read but also the potential dates we encounter and the Google search results we receive, the possibility of not only shared values but also a shared reality becomes more and more elusive.” (Jeffrey Rosen, NYTimes.com)

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