Everything we do on the is Internet tracked. The articles we read, the products we buy, and the credit reports we pull are all sources of data that is collected and sold on the open market. Companies like Axiom, DataLogic, Neustar, and Experian use pixel technology to tie demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data directly to the internet browser and the device the consumer is using. Pixels are then grouped together based on like attributes. These groups are called behavioral segments. The segments are then grouped together and sold on the open market to marketers in the form of display advertising. The data providers are compensated for every thousand display ads served (CPM). As you can imagine this is a profitable business, it’s like a digital farm. Create something cool that people want, make it free, and then sit back and harvest the data. In 2016, e-marketed reported that US Digital Display ad spending surpassed search ad spending, which means billions of dollars in revenue. Freecreditreport.comsocial sharing buttons, smartTV’s, and Amazon’s Alexa are just a hand full of examples. All data farms.

I’ve had the pleasure of presenting on this particular topic many times, and as you can imagine, it doesn’t go over well. People are uncomfortable, they whisper, and I always get privacy questions. In all reality, this type of data collection is pretty safe. And yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but in most cases, collected data is aligned to the device and not the person running or owning the device. If you change your device, switch internet browsers, or delete your cookies, most of the data is removed. Companies can only target you as a person if you opt-in or agree.

In my personal option, if you were to decide to delete your cookies or opt-out of all data, you’d hate it. By allowing internet peeps to track your device activity, you’re allowing companies to understand your likes and dislikes. As a result, your online experience is personalized specifically to your device. If you’re interested in buying a car, you start seeing car ads. If you’re looking for a house, you start receiving information about mortgages. You watch a few Sam Hunt videos on YouTube and all of a sudden you start seeing display ads about his summer tour in your city. Useful? I would say so.

Thumbs up for data!