• Live Oak Management

Is Someone Watching Me?! - How Advertisers Personalize their Ads to Reach Social Media Users

By Zoe Becker, Creative Content Producer


Social media has become an undeniable aspect of our everyday lives. Whether relying on it for news updates, entertainment, or posting and communication, major social media platforms have become a big part of our society. These various platforms have become big business, especially when used for advertising and marketing. Companies and brands have noticed trends with an exponential increase in the use of social media. These trends help specify where they can best capture their target audience’s attention.

You may notice when you are scrolling through social media that there are advertisements of items you have previously browsed. Users with such personalized and directed advertisements may take it as a subliminal sign to buy that jacket they have been thinking so much about. With that said, have users ever connected why these advertisements appear and how these applications even know what jacket they were looking at?

Applications such as Instagram or Facebook in particular, continuously provide advertisements that in some cases almost seem to be coincidental. These major companies and platforms collect personal clientele data and use it to capture clients. Using techniques such as shopping carts or habits or even product searches in personalized google searches, these applications and many others are “selling” or using user's data.

Facebook has very specific privacy settings and legal standards written in fine print. Despite that, this massive social media platform, although used by 2.7 billion people, is not as private as you think. Your “privacy settings” allow for a user to adjust how much is shown or published on your profile, but as a company, Facebook can access all of the hidden or private information linked within your account. Within the company settings, several security flaws have led to one of the biggest data breaches in history. These security flaws allow hackers to access private information allowing for the ability to take over over 50 million accounts. Facebook has developed a New Advertisement Policy that is trying to improve issues of privacy and security.



Aside from privacy issues, data collection has become an essential part of marketing and advertising. This new form of advertising with a Personalized Classification System directly targets a specific audience. This system is broken down into sections, accelerating and working on targeting and capturing customers. Depending on the company, many systems are put in place to utilize the user preferences and try their best to effectively capture their audience.



With many aspects of life, there are these fundamental bases of profit. People go to college to get an education to work and receive payment. Similar ideas for profit are a huge part of the business and corporate world. Specifically discussing advertising and marketing, other than getting the product or service out there, the majority of advertisements are created with the intention of driving sales. This business tactic is important for the companies overall, but does not account as much for the users or buyers of these products. When an advertisement says it's the “best of the best”, most people would believe it. However, there is this ethical issue of if the product is truly that great or is only in place for economic benefits. In fact, some would consider that tracking people's interests through social media is unethical.


This constant expansion of technology in our generation allows for these ethical questions of tracking to be raised. Due to the heavy use of social media in today's time, there are endless platforms and possibilities allowing for this process to occur. Will we ever truly know how advertisers get to us?



© 2019 by Sasha Kagan

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