How do Advertisers Track Consumers?

Online tracking has become one of the most common and useful practices in the digital advertising industry, but sometimes it does not benefit the consumer. Companies use tracking tools to collect data on consumer behaviour and preferences, which is then used to target users with personalized ads.

Types of Tracking

One of the most common forms of online tracking is the use of cookies. A cookie is a small text file that is stored on a consumer’s device when they visit a website. When you visit most websites they will ask if you would like to accept tracking cookies or reject them. This file contains information about the consumer’s browsing history, preferences and behaviour. Advertisers can then use this information to create targeted ads that are more likely to be of interest to the consumer. Essentially whenever you accept cookies it will result in you getting ads which are more likely to get clicks based on what you have been browsing. Did you ever wonder why you were getting an ad for the trainers you thought of buying? It’s due to advertisers knowing you are more likely to purchase the item in the end if they remind you to buy it.

Another form of online tracking is through the use of pixels, which are small images that are embedded in emails or website pages. When a consumer opens an email or visits a website that contains a pixel, their device sends a request to the advertiser’s server. This request contains information about the consumer’s device and browsing history, which can be used to create targeted ads.

Should Online Tracking be Allowed?

Some consumers may have privacy concerns about online tracking. However, it’s important to note that online tracking and targeted advertising can also have benefits for consumers. For example, targeted ads can save consumers time by showing them products and services that they are more likely to be interested in. Additionally, targeted ads can help to improve the overall advertising experience by reducing the number of irrelevant ads that consumers are exposed to.

This overall debate has sparked almost a mini war between advertising platforms and major data protection authorities. In 2022 meta was fined over 200 million euros for how they handle and track data, the fine is only a small amount though for Meta’s deep pockets. However, it seems that we are seeing more and more of Mr Zuckerberg’s company being fined for controversial use of data.

It should be up to the consumer whether they should be subject to tracking for advertising, however if you accept tracking it means you have to trust that your data will not be mishandled. Mishandling data is more prevalent in areas where there is no GDPR, such as the United States.

To be secure online and stop companies tracking you for any purpose then we would highly recommend our app BLOKK. We stop scams and trackers, allowing you to stay safe online and keep your activity private.