I am Generation Like
After watching Douglas Rushkoff’s Frontline documentary Generation Like I took the opportunity to really look at who Google thinks I am and how much Facebook really knows about me. I was only a little bit shocked to discover these two sites know quite a lot about me. As someone who is interesting in going into advertising, I have used my social media as a marketing tool for myself as well as for the traditional “social” uses. As a result of this and my near constant use of social media (something I recognize as an opportunity to gain some time back in my day) has provided Internet trackers with just about all the information they could ever want about me.
What’s even more interesting is seeing what Facebook has learned about me beyond what I’ve specifically told it through my likes and Facebook searches. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve been sitting on my computer with Facebook open because I’m chatting with someone and working on many other tabs at the same time. Facebook can then pull that data about me and use it to target my advertising. This is the most apparent when I look at the companies Facebook thinks I’m interested in. I have only liked a handful of them on Facebook, but last week I was doing a massive agency search and magically many of those agencies (even ones in London and Seattle) are showing up on the list.
One thing I always struggle with on this issue is that while I hate how much of my life and information is out there for the taking and use of advertisers, I also want to go into this business. I know that I would be more annoyed by advertisements that don’t mean anything to me. If I have to watch an ad on YouTube before my video I’d rather it be something that I actually don’t mind watching. There have even been instances where I watch an entire ad because I’m interested in the movie or product it’s proposing. However, I don’t know how I feel about the fact that they “know” me well enough to make an accurate advertisement selection. Yet, that is what I plan to do for the rest of my life. Create ads that will resonate with a specific target audience, placed in media that they regularly use.
The lovely irony of writing this response essay is that as I write this I am listening to Pandora and, by extension, I am listening to ads that have targeted to me based on what Google has learned about me. Most recently, Google has decided that I should get a new pair of boots. Funny how new black boots are actually on my list of things I’m looking to buy, though I do want to use a different website.
Bonus:There are ways to mess with Facebook advertisements in amusing, if slightly extreme ways. Here’s a link to an article about a guy who pranked his roommate by buying ad space on his Facebook and targeting the ads to an extreme. (http://mysocialsherpa.com/the-ultimate-retaliation-prankin…/)
There are also cases where people have used Facebook and Google ads as a way to get a job. Check out this video about a guy who bought ad space on the names of his potential employers.
Also, about 5 minutes after I finished writing this response this AdWeek article came up on my Facebook Wall. Data miners, you officially win.