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The great data race

New technology and the ability to gather and analyse large volumes of data are changing the ways in which advertisers reach consumers.

Consumers were once split into demographic groups, which were targeted via mass media. Today we are bought and sold one by one on global ad exchanges. This results in marketing which is highly targeted and which presupposes that the marketers have a thorough understanding of our habits, interests, tastes and network of contacts, in order to have the greatest impact.

Every time we visit a website we don't engage with just one company, but many companies at the same time. As well as the publisher who owns the site, ad exchanges, demand side and supply side platforms, ad networks, data brokers and data management platforms are present using various tracking tools. Our report reveals that on average 43 different companies have a presence on Norwegian online newspapers and record what we do. Between 100 and 200 cookies were stored on our web browser when visiting the front page of six Norwegian newspapers.

As a user, you may first notice the result of the cookies placed on your browser when the same ad starts following you around the Internet. The information that is gathered is used to build up comprehensive profiles about us. If we lose control of our own personal information, we also lose the ability to define who we are ourselves. No sector in the world knows more about us than the advertising industry. At the same time, we have very little insight into how these companies use the information they have about us.

Privacy must not only give the individual protection against constant surveillance by the authorities, but also protect us against private companies monitoring everything we do.

The Norwegian Data Protection Authority will work to increase transparency and openness in the advertising market, ensure genuine freedom of choice for users and give the user more control over his or her own personal information. See the full report for our list of proposed measures.


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