I'm browsing Facebook while waiting for work stuff to happen. I notice an ad for a hoodie that I really like. I don't really talk about clothing. I don't think I've purchased a hoodie directly in months or years (I've been getting them via kickstarter rewards lately). Yet here is the ad, and it's for a garment that I'd actually enjoy wearing. This one puzzles me; I don't know how they predicted I would want that particular item.
I took stock of other ads. Geico has one up for me asking if I'm "considering expanding my family." I mean, sort of? I'm thinking about dating a lot lately. My insurance is with them already, so... I'd be prone to buy other insurance with them. Close miss, Geico. Easy to figure out how this one came up, I was shopping for insurance a month ago. I'm pretty open about my love life and Facebook sees me talking more to more women.
Under that is an ad for Febreeze, a product I have purchased recent. I don't need more Febreeze at the moment... but again, a thing I use, and I'm being reminded that it exists. I might have bought it online? Maybe? If not, I used a card at Target and it's known that Target collects that data... wouldn't shock me to learn they also sell it.
After that the ads are kind of all over the place. A point of sale terminal (I use Square and have an interest in the concept of money), Lays (the potato chip company, I mentioned eating Doritos here yesterday), a WiFi thermostat (I've talked about my nest a bunch in the past), DSL (clearly I'm interested in tech) and so on.
None of these are ads for something I'd never use - but they are for things I have or address have solutions for already.
My buddy Gary tells a story about how he had a Google Hangouts conversation about toilet paper and later saw an ad on Facebook for the exact brand he was talking about. As demonstrated with Lays, things I say here seem to appear in my ad feed the next day.
I guess the take away is that we are watched, constantly -- and since I'm not seeing ads for feminine hygiene products (until tomorrow, because of this post), I'm not entirely opposed to it. When this information is used for Minority Report-style pre-crime detection I'll get upset. For now, I love my corporate overlords.