A Ban on Ad Targeting: Why Did EU Regulators Call for It?

Brands use ad targeting to attract potential customers but is it an ethical approach? Why is the EU asking for a ban on ad targeting?

Brands use ad targeting to attract potential customers, but is it an ethical approach? Why is the EU asking for a ban on ad targeting?

Many brands around the world have used ad targeting to attract potential customers. For this, firms leverage user data and show them relevant ads based on customer habits and preferences. But is it an ethical approach?

Yes, ad targeting is an excellent method of earning revenue and finding clients that would be genuinely interested in particular products.

However, it should not be at the cost of users’ privacy. That’s the reason the EU’s top privacy regulator has demanded a ban on ad targeting.

Here we will provide detailed information about ad targeting and the importance of new e-privacy rules to keep the user data safe. 

What is ad targeting?

Ad targeting or targeted advertising is considered a form of online advertising method that focuses on users. This method includes the display of ads based on the specific interest and preferences of the users. The advertisers discover this information by tracking their activity over the internet via web browsers. The tracking typically extends to the use of various apps. 

Thus, targeted advertising means that companies create profiles of their potential customers and attempt to find them in the online community. Surprisingly or not, our browsing habits reveal a lot about us, and such online tracking has been labeled as intrusive and unwanted. Some news outlets have even called targeted advertising a destructive trend, highlighting its puzzling nature. 

Why is the ban on ad targeting demanded? 

Targeted advertising is a great marketing strategy used by many businesses globally. However, the EU’s top privacy regulator has pointed out several drawbacks of undertaking ad targeting. One of the major reasons why an ad targeting ban is demanded is to protect user privacy and data.

Ads are displayed for the users based on their search history, interest, buying behavior, demographics, physiographic, and other data that users leave on any website. Therefore, to protect sensitive information, surveillance-based ad targeting needs to stop.

What are digital privacy rules advertisers should follow? 

Targeted advertising is effective for the business as it can help you find the right audience and boost business sales. In turn, this practice might also be treated as a privacy invasion. 

Be transparent 

Ensure that your visitor knows about the policy of collecting data and how you will be using the data. Transparency will help you win your audience’s trust, and the chances of them clicking on your advertisement increase.

Don’t use sensitive information 

Targeted advertisement does not require the use of every bit of information that might be available online. You should avoid using sensitive information such as sexual orientation, health conditions, relationship status, or race to target advertisements. Doing this will help you in building up a loyal customer base and increase your business revenue. 

Effects of ad targeting on netizens

Ad targeting needs tighter control on the way it works for both users and businesses. Here is how the use of ad targeting affects the citizens.

  • It involves using personal data to target customers. A lot of people might be uncomfortable with such an approach. 
  • Users’ feeds will be flooded with ads that seem to recall the quick Google search they made two days prior.
  • Users will stop visiting certain websites due to the high number of displayed ads.

What is pervasive tracking?

Many internet surveys have been revealed over the years, and one of the significant subsets shown is pervasive tracking or monitoring. It is considered to be a serious abuse for many users over the internet. That’s because it not only threatens the user’s privacy but also limits their freedom on the internet. 

Private monitoring is not a targeted attack, but it involves tracking personal data. Such trackers typically work with the business’ ad targeting to collect user data for generating their sales or revenue. Although the data is collected for marketing purposes, it can be compromised if it gets distributed further. 

How to limit unwanted advertisements and data tracking? 

The first rule to keep your data safe while browsing online is to ensure that you are not searching for anything private. Well, it’s not always possible to keep these things in the back seat, so you should look out for some tips to do so. You can download an ad blocker for your browser to avoid the display of unwanted ads. 

Also, you can rely on private browsers that prevent fingerprinting, third-party cookies, or supercookies automatically.

Lastly, you can use a VPN for browsing and ensure that all your data is protected and safe. A VPN can protect you from IP-based tracking and stop hackers or other entities from snooping on your network as it travels online.

While VPN does help you stay more anonymous online, remember to follow other guidelines. For instance, control settings and privileges apps receive. If possible, prevent services from sharing data with third parties, and reject offers for personalized ads. 

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