Targeted ads as Portraits
Continuing in the thread of the digitally-mediated person (Binary Portraits, the Write me for Art Project, etc.) this idea came to me the other day. I think a series is in order, but it requires the person I’m doing the portrait of to let me take all the ads from their computer that I find as they do their regular day’s navigation online
Advertizing companies get a ton of information about us as we browse (Google) or buy (Amazon). They know what we look at and what we click on, what we are interested in, what movies and shows we watch and what we take home. They know if you watch porn, or give money to charity. It’s all there and they give us ads and “suggestions” based on that activity. The line between “suggestions” and targeted ads is so blurry I think it’s really not there.
So… all this leaves a kind of portrait behind in the ads we get. When I sign into my art-only Facebook I get ads for “mature and intelligent men” because it thinks I’m single because I can’t list my husband as my husband because he’s already married to my personal Facebook identity. I assume I get diet stuff because I’m female (since I never diet), but it may be because I’ve ordered “large” in tights (I’m tall with long legs and not super skinny). I didn’t find any the day I was doing this, but sometimes my husband gets ads targeted at gay men, usually when he’s been looking at a lot of interior design sites. Who knows what all of this is based on? Every click goes into the calculations.
Here you have us both as seen by the advertising computers. This is what they think we are and want.