No-one cares about you, you’re a statistic
I still find it amazing how consumers scorn company’s for using targeted ads, citing phrases like “They’re stealing our personal data”, “They’re watching us all the time” or “They’re illuminati”.
None of the data is stolen and there isn’t some creepy guy sitting behind a computer in his mum’s basement sieving through your data to find you a personal ad so he can sell you some padlocks for your door.
Firstly, you shared your data by signing up to the company’s website. You have no reason to complain. You’ve handcuffed yourself.
Secondly, if you’re not doing anything ridiculously abnormal, it shouldn’t matter if people are watching you and if you are up to something strange, your data isn’t analysed to the personal level to offer you targeted ads anyway. The conversation doesn’t go like this:
- Advertiser: Hi Mark Z. I was wondering if you could help me target John-Joe Jepperson through Facebook. I’ve been looking at all the data you sent to me about him, including that 1000-page essay that included his favourite meal and what he did on Tuesday’s when he was 18 at 7:46pm. I was wondering if you could let me show him an ad for some Spaghetti, I think it could be useful as an ingredient for his favourite meal.
- Mark Z.: Yeh sure mate, here are all his details *hands over details*. Now just make sure you type his name into Facebook and target him personally, I’m sure he’ll convert into a buyer immediately.
- Advertiser: Thanks Mark!
As much as you’d like to believe that narrative from all the YouTube conspiracy theories you’ve been watching, it’s not how it works guys. The fact is that no-one cares about you that much, so don’t flatter yourself. To an advertiser, you’re a statistic, a demographic and you fit in a category. To Facebook, they know your hobbies, interests, where you are, what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. But still, the advertiser doesn’t personally target you, they target people that have certain hobbies, interests and whereabouts. You just happen to fit into that category. And so do 246,784 others. I’m sorry to say this but you are, in-fact, a statistic.
Thirdly, and most importantly, what kind of world would you prefer? A world where you are offered advertisements that have no relevance to your life or advertisements that are coherent to your interests? Your Facebook page could either
- Show you that there is a restaurant in Missouri when you’re actually based in the UK OR
- Show you a local Chinese restaurant because you live in London and you liked the “Chinese Food” page.
Advertisement technology is going to get better and better. Soon, you’ll be addressed on a personal level and the advertiser will make you feel special. You won’t feel like a statistic anymore and that’s something we should embrace, not be paranoid about.
So, my conclusive point is: don’t flatter yourself, no-one cares about your personal data that much.