Have you ever wondered why the internet seems to know exactly what you’re thinking? Maybe you’ve been eyeing a new pair of shoes, and suddenly, you start seeing ads for them everywhere online. This is not a coincidence—it’s digital marketing at work.

 

What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is how businesses use the internet to promote their products and services. It includes everything from the ads you see on social media to the emails you get from your favorite stores. Unlike traditional marketing, which relies on methods like TV commercials or billboards, digital marketing reaches you through your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Digital marketing and print marketing are both valuable ways to build brand familiarity, expand your reach, and communicate your services.

Unfortunately, the specific nature of these digital ads can often feel invasive and intrusive. Perhaps you’ve wondered why you’re seeing certain ads on your browser or social media and what you can do to take back control. Here are some insights that may help:

 

Why Do I Keep Seeing These Specific Ads?

The reason you see specific ads is because of a strategy called “targeted advertising.” Here’s a simplified breakdown of how it works:

 

Cookies and Browsing History

Websites use small files called cookies to track your browsing history. These cookies help advertisers understand what you’re interested in based on the sites you visit and the items you look at online.

What can you do? You often have control over your privacy in this world. If you’ve ever visited a website and been asked to “Accept All Cookies,” this is your chance to bow out of their digital tracking. You can often decline the cookies and still browse the site, or you can limit the cookies they are allowed to utilize.

 

Personalized Ads / Search Engines

When you use search engines like Google, they keep track of your search queries. This data is then used to display ads related to your searches. If you search for “best coffee shops near me,” don’t be surprised to see ads for local cafes. Often, the first few Google results will say “Sponsored” above them. These denote that the ad is a paid advertisement that is relevant to your search.

What can you do? You can always choose to scroll past the Sponsored ads when you search to get more “organic” results. In addition, when logged in to your Google account, go to www.myadcenter.google.com to personalize your advertising preferences and limit the ways Google can use your information. You can also opt for different search engines like DuckDuckGo that don’t track your browsing history.

 

Social Media

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram use data from your profile and activity to show you relevant ads. For example, if you follow a lot of pages devoted to racing, you may start seeing more ads for racing memorabilia, hobby shops, and streaming services that offer racing coverage.

What can you do? Opting into social media is also opting into some targeted advertising. However, you can often tailor your experience by clicking “Hide Ad” or “Report Ad” when you see targeted advertising you don’t appreciate. This step will help eliminate some of the unwanted items from your feed.

 


 

Digital marketing is here to stay, and it will only get more specific and personalized as time goes by. Hopefully these few tips can give you a deeper understanding of not only how it works, but how to feel in control of your online experience.