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I don't know, I'm starting to think that all this is either propaganda for ad sellers or a prank Google, Facebook et all are doing to me.

Google has my full search history, all my hangout chats, all my e-mails, and yet:

* On my Android, it keeps proposing ultra boring "stories to read" about soccer, wannabe celebrities and YouTube videos of stupid teenagers doing stupid things;

* With the sole exception of when the sponsored link is exactly the same as the first result, ad words in my search results have never ever been relevant or interesting in any way.

Facebook is supposed to know everything I like, yet it only shows me ads about stuff I dislike.

The same for Twitter and everything else.

They are supposed to know the inside of my heart and mind, but they have, till now, utterly failed to prove it.

So, do they know me and just pretend they don't for some strange reason, or do they actually know shit and just pretend they do so that they can sell to advertisers at a higher price?

Very true. Customer data is big business, yet year after year it fails to deliver.

Another classic is the repeated ads for the dish washer I just bought, for months at a time. There are glimpses of potential with targeted search results. It can be practical, for example when I search for open source software named after a common word. So the technology is there, but isn't remotely used to its potential.

My only guess is that there is only so many advertisements available in the pipeline at any given moment. It's the 90/10 rule all over again.

This is what happens to me - I need to make a purchase of some sort, and so I research for a couple days before purchasing. Then after purchasing, I see ads for said item for a while. Even on Amazon, where I bought the thing.

So close, yet so far...

Maybe nobody is interested in buying ads for the stuff you are interested in and conversely, the people making ads for the stuff you dislike have so much money that it's worth it to them to invest in trying to make you buy their stuff despite your dislike.

So in a sense, targeted ads are only worth it for the ad seller who can try to squeeze even higher prices from the ad buyer.

I keep getting Ads about cars (probably because I'm 30 years old male) despite the fact that I've never even learned how to drive or been interested in cars in general... I assume their target grouping just isn't fine grained enough.

On 2015-08-12, early in the morning, I Googled the name of a local automobile dealership to find their web site. That afternoon, I bought a new truck and drove it home.

Nearly a year later, I am still seeing ads for that dealership as well as competing dealerships in my area.

And as I remember, it worked much better in 2005 when Adwords used only page information, not visitor's.

Same. Although Youtube recommendations are very good at times.

I wouldn't have said "good". They are very relevant to what you watched recently. But watch one random shit once and your side bar is now defaced with thumbnails you can't throw away. I really wish I could opt out altogether from this one.

You can! Go to youtube, then History, and there should be an option in there to have it stop tracking your history. I'm sure they still track it, but at least they don't give me recommendations anymore. This was especially annoying for me when I would step outside of my normal youtube zone by clicking on some youtube video from reddit or some such, and for the next week I'd have all sorts of crazy weird and at times NSFW recommendations from it.

Yeah, this is why I open clickbait vids in a private window.

I got married only two year ago yet Gmail keeps showing me ads about meeting mature singles (I'm not even 30) near me. Maybe it's because of all the viagra spam I get?

This is also my experience.

And this is the second reason I use an ad-blocker everywhere. The first reason is that I can't stand being always tracked.

I always favored contextual ads. I turned off the ad networks once they started badgering me for things I was not looking for anymore, by disabling 3rd party internet cookies.

I have the same experience than you but my conclusion was that their AI was just poor.

Or they have all that data and yet are still unable to do proper ad targetting

Have you turned off customized advertisements?

After reading one of those occasional "Turn off Google's privacy invasion in three small steps" posts perhaps...

Poorly related ad choices happen to me as well, and I'm surely never bothered to change any related setting.

In my case Google know even more than that. With my use of Android they know where I work, where I do my shopping, what time I get up and go to bed, how much time I spend at the gym. In short, they could have a hugely detailed profile on me. Yet like you I find their ads not particularly targeted. (This is odd, but as a Google shareholder I'm glad there is a lot more room to improve)

With Facebook ads, the price of impressions reflects FB's perception of the relevance of the ad to the targeted audience. It could be that most advertisers are just really fishing for that one in a million conversion that leads to a car sale, or a Viagra dependency (if that's even a thing).

If I 'like' one of my gay cousin's posts on FB, I get the most interesting underwear ads for the next 3 days.

I suspect it boils down to what the ad customers are willing to buy and what they're willing to buy isn't very creative. They buy "people who liked a gay dude's posts" not "People who Facebook knows are super gay and into flashy underwear".

Remember how when Google and others launch ultra-vague privacy policies, people are quick to defend them and say "No, you don't understand - Google/Facebook/Microsoft would never do that worst case scenario you're thinking about right now. It's just phrased that way because lawyers wrote it!"

And 2-3 years later, that scenario turns out true, and they enable it silently, so not many people realize it. And they don't even have to change the privacy policy anymore, which would alert news sites, because they've already done that before.

The lawyers wrote the privacy policies that way because the companies intend to do other stuff with the data, or even that worst case scenario people think about, not just because "lawyers gonna lawyer". You don't think Google or Microsoft's general counsels know exactly what their CEOs/companies intends to do with that data 2-3 years down the road? Of course they do. They are usually part of all the long-term strategy planning.

So next time you see something like this, how about you stop giving these companies the "benefit of the doubt" (especially with their poor track record on this) and actually do assume the worst will happen, until they modify their privacy policies to specifically say what they're going to do or aren't going to do with your data.

And people still wonder why the EU could possibly want to investigate Google. Surely it's just American supremacy jealousy? I hope the EU brings everything it's got to Google, and brings the hammer down hard on them. The U.S. Justice Department seems to be completely unwilling to punish big corporations/elites anymore anyway (usually a big flashing sign for oligarchy).

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