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I'm curious. Why do you want ads shown to you NOT be targeted?

Unless you're using adblock, you should be seeing a whole bunch of crappy ads for fat-loss solutions, IQ tests, "Which way is this mannequin turning?", etc...

(Disclaimer: I co-founded a company now helping companies target ads. People opting out won't harm me economically, but I'm really trying to understand people's objections).

I'm curious. Why do you want ads shown to you NOT be targeted?

I want unsolicited ads to not be targeted for several reasons:

1) I don't want people to necessarily infer my interests/character based on ads they see when I'm just browsing the web. "Dude, why do you have porn ads all the time when you browse the web?"

2) I don't need to be sold to on a constant basis. Unless I'm in the market for something, I generally would prefer to not be sold to. Selling me something I'm sure to not care about, e.g., IQ tests, are almost the same as no ads. Showing me well-targeted ads are more likely to prove to be a distraction.

3) Privacy. I'd really prefer no one to have information that associates my account with specific information. It's hard to avoid today, but to the extent that I can reduce it, I will.

With that said, solicited ads are fine. If I do a search, x% of the time I'm looking for a product to purchase. I don't mind it then. Many of the websites I read, e.g., Engadget, are almost ad sites in that the content is generally about product for me to buy or use. And Android ads on Engadget are fine. They're not specifically targeted to me, but the demographic of people reading Engadget.

"Google does not associate sensitive interest categories with your ads preferences." So I think we are pretty safe on 1) .

1) Valid 2) You can't opt out of the ads. You're going to see them whether you want to or not. 3) You're opting out of the targeting, not the collection of your data. They will still have your data even if they don't use it for ad targeting.

Every now and then I see a perfectly targeted ad. like the other day I saw one for a chamber music concert a bus ride away. I saw an awesome concert and the venue got an extra sale. If that had been a random IQ test ad, I would have missed an awesome experience.

TL;DR targeting is better for everyone.

Regarding (2) my point was that non-targeted ads are almost the same as the ad not being there. My brain doesn't even process the "shoot the monkey" ad anymore.

Re (3), that sucks. If they're collecting and associating data with your account, but just not displaying the ads, I think that's a problem. Opting out should opt you out of associating data with your account.

Privacy - Normally my interests are more technology-oriented, so I would expect my ads to target computers and technology. However, every year around the holidays and my wife's birthday my browsing takes a more practical turn. If she were to hop on my laptop and notice that all my ads are now for jewelry, it doesn't take a genius to put 2+2 together, and the surprise is ruined. And this is just a benign example of how targeted ads might "leak" undesired information to third parties (imagine some of the more embarrassing things that might be targeted).

Quality - My experience with targeted ads usually involves them lagging behind my purchase or interest. So if I set out to buy a new saw, by the time I start getting ads related to new saws, I have already purchased it. Everybody loses (Advertisers waste money targeting a purchase I already made, and I keep seeing ads for a product I don't need anymore).

Both of these scenarios occurred recently, and I don't really know a good solution to the problem.

The methods used to target ads can be more intrusive than you realize (speaking as a data mining person). I wrote a short piece about it: http://blog.twodeg.net/when-your-data-sings

Great post. You're right that there's a lot of data out there!

Really, two plugs in the same post!!

Yeah sorry if that was obnoxious, I've deleted one.

I look at it the other way around: why would I want ads to be targeted at me? What advantage do I get from that?

I arguably get a small advantage from ads targeted at what I'm currently doing, but the relative impact of what I'm currently doing is decreased (by definition) when the relative impact of who I am is increased.

I don't need to see recruiting ads when I'm looking for computer hardware, and I don't need to see computer hardware ads when I'm looking for a library implementing a particular network protocol.

To clarify: they're not personally targeted. With re-targeting they target a browser that's been to a site but hasn't converted. No company I know of targets based on specific identity.

It's a 3-way deal. I'd like to see fewer ads, without any obnoxious flash/animation. Also, ads that pay publishers more money for their traffic - and help advertisers find markets. The current market is completely broken; obnoxious ads for consumers, no support for good publishers and bad ROI for advertisers.

To clarify: they're not personally targeted. With re-targeting they target a browser that's been to a site but hasn't converted. No company I know of targets based on specific identity.

But what do you mean by "targets based on a specific identity?" Clearly the intent is to target the same person who went to a site but did not convert. That sounds like targeting based on a specific identity to me.

Also, I can name at least two companies that target people (OK, cookie stores) based on specific interests or traits they (OK, their users) are surmised to have: Google and Facebook. These two are very high-profile about it, so I would be surprised if others did not do the same.

They're not targeting individuals; they're targeting traits. That's the difference he's talking about.

As a consumer I'm with you. If google is going to be showing me Ad's anyway... I'd rather they target them for me. It's not like opting out means they don't have giant warehouses of data on me or that they won't show me any ads. I guess I don't see what the potential up-sides are to opting out.

Being introduced to new things you did not know existed.

Unless you're using adblock

Interesting. So here's a poll I just created on that: "are you running AdBlock?"


Well I don't want to be shown ads period, (I use ad block plus) but I think targeted ads are far more annoying than generic ads. I also don't like the Orwellian aspect of targeted ads.

Besides the technicalities, _targeting_ feels like the uncanny valley, it may get personal, but it's not a human doing the selling, like in a real coffee shop or grocery

I use free internet services in exchange to being brainwashed. If I get an option to be brainwashed less efficiently, I take it.

I do not want to be driven by (sometimes subconcious) suggestive methods but by my needs.

If that's the case, used AdBlock. Stopping targeting is just going to drive you with mainstream ads.

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