How your digital footprint is being used for marketing purposes


Have you ever noticed how the ads nowadays are highly customized to your preferences? It is well-known that big companies such as Facebook, use your previously collected data in order to match advertisements of companies to your digital profile. How careful should we be when it comes to leaving a digital footprint? We all have this scary thought that everybody knows everything about us: Big Brother is watching you. However, if you think about it, it has already happened. The most visible parts are the ads that are popping up when you visit a website.


You probably have noticed when you have looked prior to that website to those specific shoes, they seem to pop up in an ad the next time. For marketing purposes it is very clear. However, when we look at other examples of big data usage, there are more examples that are less obvious. How about our GPS? You may find a setting in your iPhone allowing your phone to register your most visited locations. This gives information about where you are, at what time and perhaps reason to look into this. We have all probably heard before that as long as you are not doing anything strange, this won’t hurt. However, what happens when this data is being sold without your apparent permission? Does this include you stating that you have read the terms and conditions and allowing large companies to freely use data about your behavior on the device?


Ads will be accustomed to your location. Are you looking for new shoes and are you living in Rotterdam? Then perhaps that new store in Rotterdam could be suitable for you. That is the general idea, however nowadays more people are starting to use AdBlock. This of course is not being stimulated by companies and individuals whose business model revolves around advertisements. What happens when everybody starts using AdBlock. You will think: Hooray, no ads! On contrary, this will also impact the quality of your favorite daily newspaper or blog reads. Their incomes our based upon showing ads to you. When this stops because of systems such as AdBlock, perhaps one day your online news provider will stop giving free content: Goodbye free reads.

So, what about you. How do you feel about leaving a digital footprint? And companies using this data to target you?

Author: Nini Truong (343320)

One response to “How your digital footprint is being used for marketing purposes”

  1. Maxim Grgurevic says :

    Dear Nini,

    First of all, great blog. It reminds me again to be aware about the AdBlocker dilemma. Personally I don’t really mind leaving my digital footprint on the internet. In some cases it can be helpful, for example it reminds me that I still have to buy new shoes which I have been searching for a few days ago. But on the other hand, the overload of ads appearing on websites can be really annoying as well.

    The reason advertisers are paying money to the website you are visiting is the chance to increase sales. They will only pay for the ads when the expected benefits exceeds the costs. So, when more people are using the so called Ad Blockers, there will be less benefits for the advertiser. This will cause a decline in the revenue for the news website (assuming that you are visiting a news website). So indeed, goodbye free reads.

    But what I keep thinking is, how accurate are the ads popping up your screen when visiting a website? The ads are based on your personal web searches. But let’s say you share your computer with your girlfriend/boyfriends/parents etc, the ads are not personalized on your preferences anymore. For example if my girlfriend is searching for a new dress on my laptop, I will still see a lot of ads on the websites about a new fancy dress, but I will never click on the add. The reason I would use an AdBlocker is when I share my laptop with other people. I my opinion this is a big problem for the companies who are targeting people with personalized ads. What do you think about this?

    At the end I don’t really mind leaving a digital footprint, but as long if it is mine and the ads popping up my screen are based on my preferences.

    Maxim Grgurevic

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