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A few hours ago, you were chatting with your mom about getting a new Television set while sipping a cup of tea, and suddenly now your ads are filled with TV options from different e-commerce websites.

Do you wonder that your phone is listening to you all the time?

Don’t worry because you are not alone who thinks this way. This topic has been quite popular for the last few months, and we can’t help but wonder does it really happens?

Our smartphone is filled with ads everywhere – social media, browsers, mobile applications, etc. Many people have claimed that Facebook and Google listen to them and spy on them all the time to serve them targeted ads. Many have recorded videos as proof to support this claim.

Well, a research company Wandera, conducted a study to figure out whether technology companies listen to you or not. They put an android phone (Samsung) and an iPhone into an audio room and played the sound of cats and dogs food advertisements for half an hour. Similar phones were put in another silent room.

The researchers allowed and gave full permissions to all the applications and kept them all open. Then after repeating the experiment for 3 days, they looked at all the apps one by one, and no relevant ads were shown anywhere related to dogs or cat’s food.

What happened really?

The silent rooms and audio rooms where the phones were kept had similar activities. Little data was recorded and transferred when Hey, Siri and Ok Google were active. No other abnormal records were seen transferring. This means that this is a myth that our phone listens to us.

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What is the truth behind targeted ads being shown to us?

When we use a browser and accept Cookies, we give the website permission to record our browsing activities. We signin to our Google account, and everything we do on the internet is being stored in the form of data. These browsing data is sent to the third party who use it to show us personalised ads based on our interest and searches.

Digital Footprints are much vast than what you can imagine it to be. Visa or MasterCard sells your data to the third party, whatever you consume on social media, what you see or hear on your Facebook or YouTube for a long time is being recorded as your data. A documentary, The Social Dilemma, explains it all, and it is pretty shocking. Our offline data is also recorded, and you are frequently under data surveillance for advertisers.

Should we worry about these collections?

But these ads are just limited to what they show us and not on what we decide to buy. It is total upto us if we get persuade by clicking the shop now button. Advertisers are keeping our record and updating it as you are reading this article. They think that they know us so well by our records. Mainly, these cookies are playing a significant role in data collections.

If as a user you feel violated, you can stop accepting cookies from new websites and clear caches and cookies from your browser. You will no longer get those ads. Don’t give full permissions to the application on your mobile phone. Keep your browser history clear all the time.

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Sometimes these personalised ads can be a blessing in disguise. You no longer have to work hard to find a product you want to buy. You need to give a boost, and your cookies will do the rest of the work. You will start seeing related ads and products everywhere. You need to click on the CTA button.

For Instance,

Have you ever looked for loans or ways to borrow funds at various lenders’ websites in the UK? Search for terms like doorstep loans, loans within 1 day, or loans for the unemployed with bad credit history. The next day, you might have started getting calls from various loan representatives from leading companies offering you all the assistance you want. All this happened with one Google search.

There are more than just advertisements.

Artificial Intelligence, Big data, and Machine Learning play a significant role in collecting data with the help of algorithms to make more precise influencing ads. Now, these data are being used by business corporations and in swinging elections by political parties worldwide. But these types of practices of data collection are not considered to be illegal.

All this seems to be fascinating, and indeed, this is just a beginning. Soon, we will encounter much technological advancement. It was impossible to even think about decades ago when a Nokia Cell phone with functions to call someone and send a text message was the topmost technology we had. The advertising industry was the old one following traditional means to target audience. With Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Machine learning, we have come very far.

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