The Scary Ways Companies Collect Your Data for Ads

Data is a valuable resource for companies and collecting customer data is a priority, as companies seek to make more targeted ads. Technology has revolutionized the ability of companies to acquire and analyze customer data for their gains. While some companies simply ask customers for the information they need, customers are not always forthcoming with this information and so, companies use alternative ways to gather your data needed for their ads; ways that you just may find scary. This is achieved in several ways.

1. Websites, Cookies and Web Beacons Track Where You’ve Been

Have you ever observed that you visited a website to check out the latest footwear and soon, you are bombarded by footwear ads? This is no coincidence. Many websites are equipped with web beacons and cookies which enable companies to track the browsing history of visitors to their site. Cookies track, personalize and save a user’s information throughout the time spent on the site. By so doing, companies are able to retarget customers with ads. 

2. License Plate Scanners Track Where You Go

Where you go and where you’ve been provides much information which companies use. License plate scanning companies sell this information to advertisers. Information obtained from scanning license plates, purchase histories, credit checks, billing information are bundled by these companies and sold to advertisers who then use it to improve ads and reach potential customers. Some believe that insurance companies use this information to know where customers go and to determine their premium rates. 

3. Apps Secretly Record What You Say

Imagine hanging out with family and friends and being secretly recorded. An invasion of privacy, you may argue. Well this is very possible thanks to hundreds of apps on our smart phones that are able to access the microphone and record what is being said unknown to us. Such programs are legal in a technical sense, since we agree to the terms of the privacy policies of the apps, often without even realizing it. 

4. Retail Stores Offer You Free Wi-Fi

Have you ever entered a store, noticed that they offer customers free Wi-Fi and thought “Wow, great customer service or what a great strategy to get more customers to come into the store.”  You then proceed to connect to the free Wi-Fi to access in-store discounts and promotion codes, for instance. So what really is the business’ end game? Retail Wi-Fi is often the answer. This involves stores being able to identify a shoppers’ behavior in the store, buying trends, popular areas within the store and new and returning customers. They gain data to better understand their clients and improve their marketing strategy. To access the Wi-Fi service, and promotions, customers often have to provide an email address which the marketing department uses to later contact customers and send ads of future promotions.    

5. Your Face is Watched through Your Camera

If Mark Zuckerberg sees the need to place black tape over his laptop’s webcam, then maybe this is a precaution we all should take. He must be privy to something that we aren’t aware of. This is the thinking of many who have observed seeing ads online which feature what is in their surroundings or their attire, for instance. Emotional analytic is a company which develops software that analyses facial reactions to advertisements using the computer’s webcam or a smartphone’s camera.  Advertisers then get data regarding your impressions of their advertised products.    

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