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With the very rewarding online advertising business, challenges are set on every online “publisher” to get the most out of their visitors. While cookies are the de facto system used by most websites to track their visitor’s behaviors, there’s some ambiguity in the public speech that the giant players keep feeding us internet users. Now that mobile advertising is trying to find a way to be as much benefit as the web advertisement counterpart, as users, we can expect that things will get worse (or better- depending on your point of view). Learn about cookies privacy.

The user is the target

In fact, if we look at it, for most big players on the internet that get revenues from advertisements, their main asset is (and will remain) the users. Google is claiming to be the one of the few (or only?) web player who actually wants his internet visitors to leave their search engine page results in the quickest possible (as opposed to most website assets that want to keep each visitor the longest possible): but at the end of the day, they are serving a lot of ads through their network and they want to “tailor” those ads based on each user’s online surfing history and habits.

… for serving ads

If you consider other players, Bing and Facebook have cut deals so as to include Facebook data into Bing results. But if we dig deeper, the main asset of Facebook is its large user base that they can serve ads to. Usually, when such deals are cut, there are millions of dollars passing from had to hand (or at least, from one account to another) – but as a user, have you ever been involved in such deals?

That’s the point. The fuel that makes those industries are their user base, most of the big players (whether it is Google, Bing, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, …) are gaming the fine line between your online privacy and the “protection of your data”. Simply said: they always claim that you own the data that you publish on their platform. Well, we have to be clear what data are we talking about first.

“Your data belong to you, but we make a bunch of money out of it”

Let’s say that I am wandering somewhere in town with my smartphone turned on. As I pass by an interesting place, I shoot a picture of it and upload it to one of those giant online sites (whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, … or whatever you want). As most of those services are free to use, they have to get some money from elsewhere, and that’s where advertisements show up usually.

Now, while I browsed the internet, I know that some cookies were installed on my phone. The online platform where I want to publish the photo of that nice place would access some of those cookies so as to serve me the adequate ad: so the cookies are data that some third party stored on my phone. But on the other hand, I also uploaded pictures on these online platforms thereby feeding them with fresh and unique content – by this way, I help them give more essence and “interestingness” to their platform.  Considering that most of those platforms count millions of users, in fact, they live by the activities that we, users, perform on those sites. It’s just that they “forget” to keep you in the loop when they cut deals to leverage on the data that you provide. Simply said: “your data belong to you, but we make a bunch of money out of it”.