Be careful what you wish for…

I was browsing the Internet late last night and one of the things I did was to check flight times and costs from Southampton to Edinburgh. I was a little surprised five minutes later to see the following advert on an eBay listing.

Flybe Advert on eBayNot only had AdChoice clocked that I’d been on the Flybe website, but they’d also remembered the flight details I’d been looking at and included a link so that I could return to the Flybe website and complete the booking.

I’m undecided whether I like the ability of advertisers to track my browsing habits quite so closely. If for example I was looking for a present for a wife or girlfriend (or much worse, a mistress!) would I want others to be presented with adverts for the products or services I’d been browsing?

That was definitely the case for one Conservative MP who obviously didn’t understand how the Internet and ad targeting works. Having publicly complained on twitter that an advert for “date Arab girls” appeared on a Labour party press release, Labour embarrassingly hit back on twitter explaining how Google Adsense works, which like eBay Ad Choice shows ads based on his “interests”.

Of course you can opt out of targeted ads if you so wish, eBay AdChoice opt out is on the eBay website and linked from every AdChoice advert. Most people don’t opt out however, so if you’re browsing the web be careful what you wish for.