I left the ad industry because our use of data tracking terrified me

cheryl

cheryl

I started this
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I left the ad industry because our use of data tracking terrified me - Fast Company

With every post, click, and purchase, we have become the product. I didn’t agree to that, and I bet you didn’t either.

It was a little over two years ago that I realized the ad-tech industry had gone too far. I was an executive at a global advertising company, watching a demo from a third-party data provider on how they could help with ad targeting. Their representative brazenly demonstrated how he could pull up his own personal record and share with us his income, his mortgage details, where he worked, what kind of car he drove, which political party he was likely to vote for, and his personal interests (craft beer, of course). It was everything, all in one place.

Not to be outdone, another startup projected a map of San Francisco with a red line tracking a real, anonymous person throughout their day. He challenged us to infer what we could about her. She left the house at 7 a.m. Went to Starbucks. Went to a school. Went to a yoga studio. Went back to the school. She was a mother with at least one child, and we knew where she lived. We knew this because this woman’s cell phone was tracking her every move. As does every other cell phone, including the one in your pocket right now.

When I looked around the room that day, many of my colleagues seemed alarmed. Up until that point, the advertising industry had asked people to trust us with their data. We were about to go back on that promise. I left the ad-tech industry shortly thereafter.
 
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