Have you ever wondered why you had this steady stream of cheap Viagra offers in your spam folder in the past? Well I did! But apart from the occasional consternation that it aroused in me, I had little use for the product. Heck, I did not mind getting these ‘lowest price guaranteed’ offers as long as the filtering system of my email provider works and they go right straight into the spam folder. I often attributed it to an overzealous and lustful (there’s that word again!) marketing campaign bent on creating top-of-mind awareness for the brand.
I gotta tell you though, things have dramatically changed since then!
A couple of days ago, while watching some videos on YouTube, I clicked on a video link with a clever tag that promised a ‘shortcut’ to six pack abs (Did I just unwittingly reveal that I’m a couch potato dreaming to have those to-die-for abs without, well, without dying first?). I could not recall watching the video to the end and, for the life of me, I could not understand what the shortcut method was. But all of a sudden this guy on the video, he with the rippling muscles and washboard abs, keeps on appearing in news sites, web forums and just about every site that I enjoy browsing! Methinks “Big Brother is watching me!!!”
And so I did some research online and here’s the best explanation I got from Microsoft:
Did you know that when you visit many of your favorite or trusted websites, other websites may also know you’ve been there? A lot of websites use third parties to provide content—advertising, weather gizmos, maps, analytical tools—to enhance your experience while on the site. The elements you most enjoy on some webpages may be placed there by a variety of third–party providers. It’s just how the web works.
You’re probably thinking, “So what?” Well, when you visit a favorite website, it gets some information from your browser—browser type, operating system, IP address, screen resolution. When you visit a website that has third-party content, that content provider can also get that information.
That’s probably not too bad, but let’s say you go to different websites that use the same content from the same third-party provider. Now that provider knows you care about its content, and also knows you visit all those websites. In time, the provider can develop a profile of your web surfing habits. When combined with other information—like if you clicked through to a specific ad and entered a contest—the provider can paint a pretty good picture of your web browsing preferences.
Now, the web doesn’t always work very well without these third-party arrangements and a little give and take. You get free content in exchange for viewing advertising or providing some information. This system works and is usually mutually beneficial. And of course with targeted advertising, you just might get ads for something you’re actually looking for.
Ok, I get it! These things are supposedly designed to enhance our web-surfing experience.
But it just creeps me out!
And it ain’t Halloween just yet!
You might (MIGHT being the operative word here) also like my other posts under the Humor Category.