Advertising is not the problem for online publishers

Advertising has been around for decades, in print, on radio, on television, and now on the internet. They are the primary way in which brands get seen and try to grow their customer base.

Most of the world is highly commercial, and for a company to succeed they need to get the word out about what they offer. They need to let the world know about their products and services, and explain why their customers should take advantage of their offering. Advertising builds brand awareness.

By itself, this is not a problem.

Ads are calling for attention

A well-established aim of advertisements is to try to elicit an emotion when you see the ad, and make us associate emotions with the products in the ad. For example, when you see enough advertisements for Coke in which everyone is having a great time, you’ll eventually associate drinking Coke with happiness — a  Pavlovian response.

These types of ads, can make us feel happy, sad or even mad from time to time – but basically they are quite harmless – they are passive and non-intrusive. They simply raise awareness about a brand and its products. They send us the signal that the company believes in its products and want us to buy it.

Achieving a high level of awareness and getting the consumers’ attention can easily turn into a slippery slope for advertisers. It is fair to demand that ethics are an important part of advertising, and advertisers and companies should use ethical standards when they advertise.

Displaying ads in appropriate contexts is simple and relatively effective – an ad for toothpaste in a dental magazine, or for jewellery on a fashion website. As an example from Privacore it is how findx, the private search engine works, by displaying ads related purely to the search term you entered.

This shows clearly that the advertising alone is not a problem.

Bad and creepy ways to advertise

In some scenarios we, ourselves,  provide our information intentionally — signing up for a newsletter — and by giving our consent and showing our interest we are aware that we will receive ads. These ads are not a problem, we allowed this advertising to take place.

Fortunately, we are becoming increasingly aware of when we are being targeted with ads without our consent.  And the rise in popularity of ad-blockers has given us tools we can use to filter out such intrusive ads,  hinder click-bait websites, and block third-party tracking.

Blocking click-bait content and fake news

Increasingly more content on the web is either masquerading as informative articles, or produced purely to be swamped by the ads surrounding it. The model is centered around creating an attractive headline and publishing so-called click-bait content, and as a result, large numbers of visitors click through to such a website – If you want to see one of the worst examples take a look at Lifebuzz or Taboola, but please get (and use) an ad-blocker before going to that site!

We are being tracked without our permission

Rather more than likely these days, our personal information is collected without our knowledge or consent: A search for something results in ads for a particular ‘related’ product following us all around the web for days or weeks afterwards.

Maybe these advertisers (and publishers) haven’t yet understood that this type of underhanded personalised advertising doesn’t work – it makes us wary of trusting those brands, but it can be very hard for you as a reader to recognise bad and unethical data-collecting and advertising methods.

Ads are not the problem, the tracking is.

The problem is not the advertisements themselves.

The problem is that our information is ‘stolen’ without our permission, and that we are constantly tracked and stalked by publishers and third parties, in order to be coerced by unethical advertisers.

Take control away from the trackers

But you can take control and avoid the third-party trackers. Using Privacontrol, our tracking controller, you can block the third-party trackers but allow the harmless advertisements.


Interested in privacy-aware alternatives? Take a look at our private search engine
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