Cookies for You?

We really don’t know what we need. And we have no clue about what we might want. There is a reasonable  chance that we might want or really need things that we don’t have the faintest idea even exist. But they know. If we have ever used the internet.

On a daily basis, we learn more about our potential to want, need, own, use, have, enjoy and fantasize about.  Like getting slimmer, going on a fancy vacation, wanting a new car or really badly needing a larger diamond. But they learn more.

The customization of the on-line ad offerings goes into high gear the minute we type something in a search engine, click on or “like” something on a site. It’s called behavioral advertising. I have yet to figure out whether the ads are intended to support our current behavior or to change it.

Unless we are rigorous and browse “in private” at all times, disable our cookies, opt out from targeted ads from various ad platforms, etcetera, they will know more and more about us as we happily tap away on the keyboard. But who is persistently rigorous? It’s hard work to protect one’s privacy on the net, and it costs money to upgrade to ad-free services.

If we have the inclination, time and patience to dig a bit deeper, it’s quite interesting to see what information the cookies and pixel tags have collected on us. How we appear to the ad world.

The information I found about myself the other day was quite…let’s say,  intriguing:

  • I’m a female – bingo! At least the fragrance ads I’m offered are Pour Femme.
  • I’m 18-20 years old – whoaa! Got a great bargain right there, more than 50% off.  That also explains the dating and college ads. It’s nice to be young again. Just need to avoid searches that would indicate otherwise, like for a Life Style Lift.
  • I live in New Jersey – sorry, not even close. But I’ve been to Newark (EWR) for intercontinental transfers a few times. Maybe I connected to their wireless service once while waiting for five hours…and that counts for living somewhere?
  • Interested in MMA – whoooz, whoooz,  me a black belt? The closest I’ve come to mixed martial arts is a karate academy for kids where I drove our son when he was about 11. He’s been out of college for more than five years now…but maybe they remember?
  • Interested in dogs – definitely. They got that right, but where are my coupons for dog food? No ads for bonus dog toys, nada!

And someone must also think I’m overweight. My doctor doesn’t think so, but I’m getting these fat burning ads. One miracle drug after another! Although it was not explicitly mentioned in my ad profile, they must also think I need a new ride. The ads I’m served tell the story. Young female driving an old Ford in New Jersey – needs a new Explorer, the green version. Maybe I really need it, just don’t know it? Green version would be good. Or a sleek Porsche maybe?

And so it goes. Ads customized just for us. We search and we find. Our steps are tracked and we’re offered more. More of the same, similar looking, similar smelling or simply more choices. Maybe we need more of everything?  These are modern times and we are big business!

Sometimes I wonder what we did before the internet? How we managed to get through life without it? The Yellow Book super thick version? Lots of calling around? We certainly drove around for hours looking for a specific wine bottle opener and still didn’t find exactly what we were looking for in our local stores. We had to remember all birthdays weeks in advance, go find the gifts, box them and go to the post office to mail them. So much more work! How did we have any time to live?

Now we’ll just log in to Amazon or another favorite on-line store and have “it” at our door step, or the recipient’s,  the next day. And then we’ll be offered hundreds of bottle openers, or whatever we browsed for, in the next few weeks. All colors and shapes, matching accessories, maybe also some good wine to go with it. We may really need all that. What do I know? They do.