Privacy on the Internet is a funny thing; users want to have it, but they also want to be able to have an enjoyable, customizable experience. There is undoubtedly a happy balance between privacy and customization, but that balance is completely dependent on who you ask. As I was viewing my classmates’ opinions on the privacy vs. customization debate, I saw a lot of references to banner ads, specifically the creepy ones that know your every movement on the Internet and advertise a product or service that you were probably just looking at. I know these ads well considering that I work with them on a daily basis.
I’m not completely defensive of these ads – they annoy me sometimes too – but I also think they very much add to our experience as an Internet user. Everyone uses the Internet in their own way, but I think it’s fair to say that each user customizes their online habits in different ways. But isn’t that why we use the Internet to begin with? Because we, as users, all want access to certain information and platforms and have an easy way to do it? And that’s where the whole banner ad thing really gets me. Sure, ads in general are annoying. But whether you like it or not, with the commercialization of the Internet and digital technologies in general, you know that advertisements are going to be plentiful. So wouldn’t you rather have those ads be targeted to good or services that you might actually be interested in, rather than something completely random?
Or better yet, is it entirely possible that the only reason these ads are “annoying” is because they catch your eye, because they are something that you might actually be interested?