I suspect you can relate to this experience I have had. I’m talking with a friend about something he is using, let’s say it’s a set of special headphones. I comment that I like them and will have to look into buying a pair. Before I can log onto Amazon, an ad pops up containing the exact headphones we talked about.
Another example: We don’t have an ice maker in the house. We do it the old fashioned way by putting ice cube trays in the freezer. I was commenting to my wife that I saw counter top ice makers for only $100. I even said, “Not that we need to buy one.” The next day, my wife comes to me with her phone and shows me a Facebook ad for counter top ice makers. Only $0.99. A bad purchase by the retailer, allegedly, and the picture shows the inside of the retailer’s store with the price marked on a skid of ice maker boxes.
While I realize the $0.99 ice makers was a scam of some sort to get personal information, the real question is, “Who told them what we were talking about?” This has happened to us and to friends too often for it to be a coincidence.
Here’s my theory and I have NO data to back it up. I believe “they” are listening through our phones. OK… please don’t stop reading. I have heard the conspiracy theories about “them” listening through our TV sets. As a techie guy, I have reasons to not believe that one. But, who hasn’t talked into their phones to get Siri or Google or Alexa to help them?
“But you have to start the app to get the search engines to help you,” you say. That is true. And for the voice recognition to work, the audio is set to a server farm so the AI help software can process your request. Surely you have been out of cell and WiFi coverage at some point when you asked for help. “We’re sorry, you must be connected for a response,” the local app says.
But my theory is that the search engine you normally use IS listening all the time and whenever possible is uploading and processing what you say. When the AI software recognizes interest in a product, that information is forwarded to the affiliate vendor. You are then put into the queue to receive an ad by whatever service you use next or most often.
It’s the old adage, “Follow the money.” I believe this is the next generation of targeted advertising. My suggestion is a hard one to follow: stop clicking on ads, completely. Put another way, boycott ads. Keep shopping where you are comfortable shopping, I certainly will. But if you find ads as annoying as I do now, don’t take the bait.
Final words: I’m curious to see if I am somehow targeted for this exercise of free speech. I’ll keep you informed.