Why do ads appear online for similar products we are looking for?


07:00 am

Thursday January 20 2022

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The user may be surprised to see advertisements about products about which he may talk to his friend or relative on instant messaging applications or social networks. If a user searches for a product on a particular web page, they are surprised that other websites suggest similar products. Here’s a quick look at how personalized ads work on the web.

To answer the question about personalized ads on the web, Rebecca Weiss of the German Association for Communications and Information Technology Bitkom replied: “Personalized ads are ads associated with who we are and what we’ve seen or used on the web.”


Certain tracking mechanisms are relied on on websites to store what the user searches for, and this often happens through cookies, or what is known as “cookies”, which are small files that the browser stores.

“Web servers can allow a browser to set cookies when a user calls a web page,” explained Joe Bager, from the German magazine c’t.

“Because cookies contain clear information, websites are often able to identify their visitors,” Bager added. A distinction is always made between first-party and third-party cookies; The first type files are identified by the websites, which are visited, but when the website includes content from other websites, then they are marked as third party cookies.

“Advertisers are showing content everywhere on the web, so they can track users in all locations,” Bager added.

If the user calls up a webpage that contains a placement for personalized ads, then some kind of auction is started; Where the advertising partner automatically shows information about the visitor, such as the type of user, whether male or female, as well as the assumed interests, and then the advertising companies submit bids so that the visitor sees the advertisement for the company with the largest bid, and usually all these procedures are done in fractions of a second The user does not notice anything.

Here, a question comes to mind about the transparency of these procedures and what information is collected about the user. To answer this question, Weiss explained: “Technically, almost anything about the user can be collected.” The most relevant information about the advertising environment is the products, which the user is interested in. If the user recalls a certain set of articles, then it can be inferred whether the user is interested in sports or outdoor activities.

“Conclusions can be drawn about hobbies, political interests, or health information,” Weiss added.

Of course, website operators and advertising companies are required to comply with data protection law requirements and often obtain user consent, so banners for cookies are always visible when visiting websites.

Vice indicated that the company providing the service must announce the reasons for collecting data and disclosing the parties with which this data is shared, but most users click the consent button without seeing the full information, and many are not interested in knowing what they agree Therefore, an important issue here is the need for informed consent for cookies.

Hans-Dieter Neumann, of the German Data Protection Association, explained some of the information that websites and advertising companies can collect about the user, saying: “These companies can identify the type of device used, the web browser and the operating system, which is used to access the website.” Website visitors are usually 99% clearly identifiable by these different hardware characteristics.

privacy protection

In order for the user to be able to protect his privacy and data, the German expert, Bager, advised using the data protection options in the browser and blocking third-party cookies and all other tracking mechanisms, and emphasized that Mozilla, Firefox and Brave browsers are among the best browsers, and recommended the use of search engines Duckduckgo, Startpage or Metager In order to maintain privacy and protect data.

Weiss recommends disabling the creation of browser history, deleting cookies and search history on a regular basis, in addition to having several additional browser tools, which help the user to better block tracking actions.


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