Online Advertising: Crash Course Media Literacy #7
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Online Advertising: Crash Course Media Literacy #7

have you ever been window shopping just looking in the windows of stores browsing there anything from the store ever just follow you around you're browsing for a new hat and see one you like would pass it by then in the video game store next door the Hat is just sitting on the shelf and in the clothing store after that looking at you following you last episode we talked about advertising and the long history of techniques for getting us to buy things in today's episode we're looking at what happens when those techniques move online where you might be followed much more than you think in the olden days before online shopping stores didn't know what you were looking at they couldn't track your shopping habits and then place advertisements for stuff you like wherever you went tasks were just hats they couldn't follow you around traditional advertisements were contextual they were put in specific places or contexts where advertisers expected people to be commercials during must-see TV billboards along traffic field highways pages and popular magazines places with lots of eyes and people with nothing else to do advertisers had to jam all of the persuasive techniques and logical fallacies they could into expensive ads and then hope the right people would see but that was before the internet and smartphones and social media and geolocation on cookies and pop-up ads and ad blockers and yeah it's about to get scary old timey advertisers didn't know who would see their ads and they also didn't really know how well they were doing put up an ad for soda right by a high school and maybe they'd have a rough idea of who walked by it every day but they wouldn't know how many kids actually bought soda it wasn't a total guessing game but it wasn't a science either because of this advertisers targeted different groups of people or demographics teenagers older men and women business professionals families white people black people Asian people still these groups are pretty broad you could place an ad with a TV show that drew mostly female viewers or a radio program that had mostly teen listeners but you couldn't get too specific so ads had to be broad too and the products being sold were incentivized to be one-size-fits-all anything too niche for a wide audience couldn't afford to spend money on big broad advertising since the birth of mass media advertisers have been looking for better ways to do this to make sure they're as hit just the right people enter the Internet in the early days of the internet the ad world was still just like print or TV advertising ads were created to reach as broad an audience as possible first came display ads and like print ads they just sit there on your screen and quickly advertisers tried to gussy these up pop ups the worst and animated ads everything to get attention but the real innovation was turning ads into links what happens when an ad is a link it's convenient see an ad for a hat clicked BAM you're at hat store calm but also that means hat store calm can count how many times that link was clicked advertisers no longer had to estimate how many I saw their ads or what they did in response and for a while the click-through was an unstoppable measurement tool this brings us to the web cookie which made these ads even stronger cookies are like little bread crumbs their web sites and apps place on your device they follow you around the web and report back on your habits suddenly advertisers could track who was clicking on those ads and where they'd go next did they browse the site did they download a coupon did they buy something they could figure out who those viewers were their shopping habits and even what their life was like pre cookie advertisers put their targets that's you in pretty broad demographic buckets but now they could now that immensely ads can target just 18 to 24-year old women with an interest in science who live in Brazil or 34 to 45 year old men who like soccer in Canada this is called addressable advertising sometimes refer to as behavioral targeting take a look around this video are you seeing any ads if so are they things you're interested in that might be because YouTube is using cookies to display what it thinks you want to see your recommended videos work that way too every time you use your phone a computer you're leaving data breadcrumb trails the websites you visit log your IP address a unique set of numbers used to identify your computer as you browse the web there are other kinds of unique identifiers too they can track what kind of device you're using where you are how fast your internet is who else you follow all kinds of stuff you may be thinking isn't getting better music recommendations and seeing actually irrelevant as worth a few cookie crumbs the problem is the websites and apps you do trust to use your data trails don't keep it to themselves let's take a deeper look at this in the thought bubble when you open up a new app or website or log into a social network you'll often come across some terms and conditions sometimes they're called the Terms of Service these are the rules of the road the company is telling you what you can and can't do in the app like use it to commit a crime or share stolen work but they're also telling you what they will and won't do most of the time when we create a new account like this we just check the box to accept the terms and conditions and move on but companies know we don't read those ridiculous documents research even shows it would take us 25 days each year to read all the things we agree to so more often than not we're actually consenting to a lot of stuff we probably wouldn't if we actually read the darn thing for example Instagram you think you're using an app to share photos with friends and chat with them the apps terms of you say you can't post sexually explicit violent hateful or discriminatory things on Instagram you can't steal someone else's login or use your account for illegal purposes they have a right to kick you out if you break the rules like spamming or threatening others or stealing someone else's photos okay that makes sense but their Terms of Use also say if they do want to kick you out they can do so without warning and afterwards all of your photos and data and comments will no longer be accessible through your account despite their Community Guidelines they they have no official obligation to take down any Instagram content they don't own your content but you do grant them a non-exclusive fully paid and royalty-free transferable sub licensable worldwide license to use your content in other words they could use your photos however they want including selling them to third parties doing so would be a big breach of trust so they probably wouldn't but they could they use analytics tools that collect information sent by your device including the webpages you visit and they may use device identifier zhan your phone to track your browsing habits to serve you personalized content or ads with Instagram on any app you use with the right Clause hidden in all that legal jargon your info can be sold to third parties over and over again then advertisers can sell you more better targeted ads so when you absent-mindedly check the box to accept god knows what terms and conditions your often also signing away your right to privacy right now that info mainly goes to advertisers but you can see how our ambivalent attitude around privacy could make us vulnerable to bad actors or say foreign influence on things like you know presidential elections thanks thought-bubble data tracking isn't just used to serve you personalized ads either it can actually determine what kind of content you see elsewhere when we browse Amazon or Netflix they provide us with suggestions based on stuff we've already seen these recommendation engines in a way are advertisements it's showing you one show or product over another and by extension hiding others the companies that use them certainly say they're just being helpful but these can actually limit our options and keep us boxed into the things big corporations want us to see there are many different kinds of low-key ads but two really common ones are easy to overlook the first is sponsored content sponsored content can mean anything from an Instagram post to a documentary that an advertiser paid to make and publish it may not be obviously selling anything like an article about taking care of your car but paid for by a car company with this logo at the top or it's that weird list of outlandish tabloid articles at the bottom of a more reputable site like you'll never believe how they died with a picture of a celebrity who's definitely alive those are particularly hard to pick out because publishers like your favorite mag and websites will place them alongside their own original stuff the editorial content so they blend in first learn to distinguish between ads and non-commercial information look for phrases like sponsored content native content advertorial or presented by brand name here celebrities and media creators may say they're partnering with the brand that means they're getting money to promote that brand even when you Google scope out the tiny green add in a listing that shows they paid to be at the top of the list second if nothing else remember this when something is free you're the product if you're sitting through ads to watch a video or scrolling past them on Instagram that's the price you pay to share photos and make vlogs shipping Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio IRL check through all your online profiles and see how much info you're giving away head to the settings on your phone and turn off geolocation features and microphone access wherever you can and next time you create an account think twice about handing over any personal info create a dummy email address for that stuff if you have to finally know that nothing ever goes away online sure the internet may forget about your embarrassing photos and snaps may disappear but when you're online you're being tracked it sounds scary because it is the best way to navigate this hyper targeted media environment would be to well log off forever but we know you're not going to do that that's why you're here with us today the next best thing is to be hyper vigilant about what information you share online and minimize it whenever you can be wary of anything that seems free because chances are you're paying for it with your attention and your life story right now the biggest internet and tech companies make the rules and we all follow along because we don't like to read long legal documents but with any new technology there are organizations and policies that try to rein in the power of big players like Facebook and Google sometimes they're successful and sometimes not so much we're gonna learn all about that next time on crash course media literacy until then I'm J smooth see you crash course media literacy is filmed in the doctor Cheryl C Kinney studio in Missoula Montana it's made with the help of all of these nice people and our animation team is thought cafe crash course is a complexly production if you want to keep imagining the world complexly with us check out some of our other channels like sexplanations how to adult and healthcare triage if you'd like to keep crash course free for everyone forever you can support the series at patreon a crowdfunding platform that allows you to support the content you love thank you to all of our patrons for making crash course possible with their continued support

About Ralph Robinson

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49 thoughts on “Online Advertising: Crash Course Media Literacy #7

  1. Someone make a website with the terms of service of different companies but paraphrased into quick bullet points. Then also leave it open for discussion at bottom.

  2. I hate tracking cookies but I wouldn't mind telling my browser some of my interests that it could share with websites so I'd get relevant ads. is this the future?

  3. Martin Garix ft Khalid – Oceans has been haunting my up next these days. Sigh, remember See You Again by Charlie Puth and Wiz… Or Despacito, and how they LIVED in your up next lmao

  4. Searching for techniques to generate income online. There's a shortcut to find all online working methods. Go to google and just type: "TheMakeMoneyOnlinePro".

  5. I think big data is a part of new digital era and whatever the reason, we cant close our eyes from this new era. We need to control ourselves online, than to log off from the internet forever

  6. Bra..
    I've been using youtube mainly for school these.

    I swear all my ads now say "You should take this online Udemy course, It's taught by expert…."

    I miss my old ads…

  7. My girlfriend has been watching YouTube videos about lawn care, suddenly she gets mail addressed to her from lawn care companies. You are tracked far more closely than you might think.

  8. Sort of… but they do not give your info to the advertisers, they do their own data mining , and then show you the ads from the advertisers that best suits the profile.

  9. 7 Episodes in and I have to ask. Does that lamp have eyes? am I out of my mind? I swear that lamp is staring at me.

  10. Many of the phone apps can use your camera and mic without your consent. When you do something unspeakable, they might be watching.

  11. I've read a few of the terms and service, for my bank and such, and there's the bigger problem than that people don't read them, even if people tried it's written in legal language so it's hard to understand.
    Targeted ads are creepy but I get a little less concerned when it slips up and I get an ad I don't usually get, like even though I'm a 27 year old woman I don't normally get baby ads. More often I wish I could just directly tell them things like how yes I spent a while reading a lot about Dutch ovens, I got one I'm not going to buy another, or that the flight I booked is to see family so I'm really not interested in hotels.

  12. To clarify about how cookies work: A cookie is just a piece of data; it doesn't do anything directly. What it can do is indicate to websites that look for it that you've been somewhere else, or store a unique ID in your browser so ad networks can track you. Most browsers let you block "third-party" cookies, but blocking cookies from the websites you're directly accessing can and will break those sites.

  13. I clicked on an ad on instagram the other day and the next day i got an ad from that same company on my tumblr, it definitely felt like the hat following you around example. ahhh the world we live in is scary

  14. Even if we all read all the terms of service, in many cases you must agree to the terms in order to be able to use the service. Given that these services are so valuable, users don't really have much power in what they agree to (i.e. we don't get to individually negotiate our terms with the company), the only real power comes from being very thoughtful about what we share and how we use the services. Media literacy education should include training on how what we share will be used and could be used against us and how to protect ourselves while still enjoying value these services afford.

  15. Also heuristics are influenced by what is not forced censorship. Even on YouTube my country some times bans media or at least that is what is stated. All countries have copyright laws and what would be banned besides ratings of what things are labeled. Movie and game rating don't seem to mean much. Also banning things like books or science information can get ridiculous.

    There should be a way people can decide for themselves though I can see why some censorship exists. When people place scams or share human trafficked ads, and then post it online for example. Back page is often used for criminal activity like selling children or adults under human trafficking.

  16. Okay but for some reason I keep getting ads for Muslim dating (I'm atheist with a broad interest in religion as a philosophical concept but that's it) and Thermo Fisher is obsessed with sending me ads and even though I do work in a lab, I have no say over which equipment we use. The one targeted ad that seems kind of accurate is the one about young people making a difference to the future: the Internet Cookies seem to have finally picked up on the fact that I'm a young person deeply frustrated with our current society and systems; but that particular ad just creeps me out, it looks and sounds too much like a cult of extremists! They also seem to have noticed that I enjoy playing video games, Overwatch in particular, which is why I often see ads for Overwatch…a video game which I have already bought…

    So…maybe targeted advertising still needs a bit of fine-tuning?

  17. Advertisers can't track me, they watch me focus on software development and on my VITA,s o they send me lots of gamemaker studio and SAO ads, but the thing is I have linux so gamemaker studio is useless, and their stupid sao game likely didn't even support windows, so i don't care. (Should I also add that I hate ARPG's?) And all of the women they show to make me "interested" just look ugly to me XD XD XD

  18. this man one hundred percent ships Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio IRL; no one makes a reference like that without it having some grain of truth

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