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In the digital age, data has become the new currency, and social networks are used not only to communicate between people, but also to collect and analyze data and target users with ads.
The secret of confusing ads on social media: how do platforms know what they are thinking?

The secret of confusing ads on social media: how do platforms know what they are thinking?

  • Every interaction we do online leaves a mark that is used to connect us to advertising.
  • AI algorithms are used to create a virtual profile for each user based on their online activity.
  • The algorithm can predict the user's next needs and "find exactly" what they were thinking.
  • Social networks act as interlocutors between the person and the advertising.

Unraveling the ambiguity of social media advertising: What targeting technique is used?

With every click, every like, every comment, every search, and every online interaction, we voluntarily deliver vast amounts of data to social networks.

At this stage, in 2024, every smartphone user knows that they leave a "digital footprint" on any social network they use, and that this information is used to connect them with ads from companies that might interest them. For example, if they search on Google for "iPhone 15," they'll see ads for the phone on Instagram or any other service they use. Similarly, if they search for clothing, they'll be chased by ads for brands on Facebook, YouTube, and elsewhere. Also, even if they have a conversation offline, Google will turn those keywords into new online ads.

Now, what happens when you think about a product or service without leaving any trace online, and yet, you see an ad on social media networks? For instance, at lunchtime, you think about having your favorite pizza, and even though you didn't tell anyone or search for it on your smartphone, an ad for that pizza you were thinking about appears. This amazing phenomenon that makes you wonder if they can access your thoughts is just a coincidence... or not quite.

We live in the digital age, a world driven by data processed by artificial intelligence. Social networks operate using sophisticated smart algorithms, meaning each user has a virtual profile created over years of online activity and environment: family, friends, or similar individuals.

Through a logged-in Google account, you can access your age group, gender, general location, activity, current searches, interactions with ads, types of websites you visit, activity with apps on your cell phone and other devices, as well as the time of day when you do all of the above. Thus, with the tastes, interests, routines, and behaviors the user has exhibited over a long period, the algorithm can predict their next needs and "exactly find" what the user was thinking about at any given moment.

How does this data be used to link us to advertising?

AI techniques are used to analyze this data and create a default profile for each user, including information such as:
  1. Age Group
  2. Sex
  3. Site
  4. Online Activity
  5. Current Search
  6. User interactions with ads
  7. Types of websites they visit
  8. Activity on apps
  9. Types of websites they visit
  10. Activity on apps
  11. Time of day when the user does all of the above

How do social networks predict our ideas?

  • Smart algorithms: Social networks work using intelligent algorithms known as "hashing".
  • Default profiles: These algorithms are used to create virtual profiles for each user based on years of online activity and environment.
  • Artificial intelligence: AI techniques are used to analyze this data and predict the next user needs.
With all this information, social media networks act as intermediaries between the individual and the advertisement. Users are segmented so they match with thousands of products or services offered by companies. In conclusion, it shouldn't surprise you that when you leave work hungry and think about your favorite food without leaving any trace on your cell phone or mentioning it to anyone, an ad for the pizza you like the most appears.
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