Have you ever had the feeling that social media or Google is reading your mind? Perhaps you have been chatting with your friends about taking a vacation, and all of a sudden your Instagram ads seem to be heavily dedicated to travel? Whilst it would not be beyond the realms of future possibilities that the internet will soon find ways to read your mind, this is not what is happening when you log on to your profile and see the hard sell on products which you have been expressing an interest in.
What is happening here is that your online movements are being tracked and used in Instagram advertising algorithms. Big advertisers, such as Instagram and Facebook, utilise information which you have given permission for them to use, and then they tailor your ads to you. Here is how they do it.
Why This is Important
What we must recognise is that if you scroll down your Insta feed looking at all of the pretty pictures, Instagram is not making any money from that, so they need to sell some ads. Now the longer you spend time on Instagram, the more ads they can show you and the more money they can make, which is why they create the channel to be so addictive and visually pleasing.
How Instagram Ads Work
The way in which Instagram ads work is that a company will set an amount of money which they are willing to spend on their advertising. Instagram will then give this company ad targeting options. Given that Instagram knows the ins and outs of their audience, they can then point these ads to the targeted customer, which for the paying company means they have a far bigger chance of getting some traction.
Age and location targeting is one option, but Instagram is trying to keep both the company and the suer here, so they go even heavier on the specifics, allowing companies to target things people like. Using the infuriation that Instagram is able to gather from its data collecting partners from across the web, they can then marry up who the company is aiming at with their ads, and the user who would surely love what they are selling.
If the company aim to target 25-30 year old male who loves football, then you can bet your bottom dollar that this guy is going to see some retro shirts, ticket sales and football boots on offer.
Tips on Avoiding This
Ultimately Instagram ads are doing this in order to give the user a far higher quality experience and to make money from those paying to advertise on their platform. If you don’t like the way this works, you can always use a VPN to browse the web, or use the privacy or incognito settings on your browser, so that no data is logged from your activities online.
It may seem like Instagram is in fact reading your mind, but the reality is a little more technical and less impressive.