I will admit it. I am a self professed lover of pretty much everything Google does. Sure, my emails aren’t fully secure and Google is collecting more consumer data than any other company or government agency on the face of the Earth, yet all in all, I love Google.
As a digital content marketer, I also love cookies and retargeting. For those that don’t know, a cookie is:
“A cookie, also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while the user is browsing that website. Every time the user loads the website, the browser sends the cookie back to the server to notify the website of the user’s previous activity. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember stateful information (such as items in a shopping cart) or to record the user’s browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited by the user as far back as months or years ago).” – Wikipedia
Retargeting works off cookies. For those that don’t know retargeting is an online cookie-based platform which utilizes basic coding to follow you around the Internet. Have you ever visited Express.com to look at some clothing only to find their ads showing up on the side of your browser while on Facebook or any number of sites? That’s retargeting.
Now, as a digital content marketer, I love cookies and retargeting. It allows for more in depth tracking and a continued customer push to get involved in the company sales channel. As a digital content strategist, I love HTML cookies and retargeting. As a voracious news consumer, I hate Internet cookies and digital ad retargeting.
My News Content, Sadly, Isn’t Your News Content
You see most people don’t realize that the news they get online via Facebook, Yahoo or Google News isn’t true for everyone. The news content that I see is, due to browsing history, click history and aggregated time spent on individual websites/pieces of content, is different than the news content you see. We can call this shift in news consumption the Facebook News Content Feed. Due to the factors I mentioned, the news content I picked it shown to me on the basis of the content I have already shown to like, click on or interact with. Just like plussing something in Google +, every time you click on a news story or read a different article, your history is collected and projected in the content you are yet to see. My news content is different than your news content.
So why is this bad?
Some people might look at this concept as a good thing. Say if your a right wing or left wing political operative, the idea of sending targeted news to your base is an avenue to control how someone thinks via the information they receive. In other words, force feeding history determined content to a consumer is a way to control the media advertisers and news organizations want you to see because they know you like and or agree with it. Thus, the issue arises.
News content, unlike advertising content, is meant to inform and educate. Advertising content is meant to create a point of sale. More than anything, news content is meant to show unbiased facts grounded in solid reporting so you, the reader, have “all the news that is fit to print”. If the news content you receive on a daily basis only serves to reinforce your already held beliefs, then that content is worthless. Without new information, your beliefs are reinforced causing you to live in the proverbial bubble.
Your news content isn’t my news content due to issues discussed within. This isn’t good. It needs to change. If not, all consumers will hold different eternal truths, all the while losing track of the truth. A coworker once said to me, “everyone has a different definition of up.” While this is true, at least people can agree there is an “up”.