This article dives into the implications of AI in advertising, with a focus on its current predictive usage in social media advertising spaces.

From suggesting influencers to targeting search history and pushing content to individuals with shared links, AI transforms how advertisements are created and delivered.


The Power of Personal Data

It is no secret that apps can track, store, and monetise user data. A clear example would be ads for baby products suddenly popping up after looking at a friend's baby shower gift registry. This results from companies like Facebook gathering personal data to curate ads for their audience.

However, the extent to which AI technology leverages personal information for advertising is increasingly dynamic.


Multifaceted Targeting Capabilities

AI-driven advertising extends beyond social media platforms. Facebook, for example, offers advertisers a wide range of targeting options to maximise the effectiveness of their campaigns. These options include demographics such as location, age, gender, and language.

The network's targeting capabilities go even deeper. Advertisers can pinpoint users based on their education level, field of study, ethnic affinity, income, home ownership, and interests.


Case Study: Fertility Tracking Apps

recent article shed light on the extensive data collection by fertility tracking apps. Facebook was found to have received personal information from apps such as Flo Health Inc's Flo Period and Ovulation tracker. Users' weight, blood pressure, ovulation status, and even heart rate information were sent to the social media giant.

Consequently, individuals hoping these apps would assist them in conceiving found themselves bombarded with ads for maternity jeans — all before announcing their pregnancies to friends and family.


Algorithmic Guardians: A Solution?

With the rise of AI-driven advertising, concerns over data privacy have intensified. Experts propose the implementation of "algorithmic guardians" as a potential solution.

These guardians could be bots, personal assistants, or hologram technology, accompanying users online and alerting them to the behind-the-scenes activities of AI algorithms.

By providing transparency and control, algorithmic guardians could empower users to make informed decisions about their data and mitigate the inescapable nature of targeted advertising.


As we look ahead to the future of AI in advertising, there is a mix of excitement and concern. On the one hand, AI technology holds tremendous potential for advertisers to deliver highly personalised and targeted ads, resulting in a more engaging and relevant user experience. On the other hand, there is a growing concern about the invasion of privacy and the ethical implications of AI-driven advertising.

There's a delicate balance that needs to be struck. While users may appreciate personalised recommendations and content, they also value their privacy. Finding the right equilibrium between delivering personalised ads and safeguarding users' privacy rights is the challenge. This requires a multifaceted approach, one that prioritises transparency and user control.

User consent and precise privacy policies should be at the forefront of AI-driven advertising practices. Additionally, regulations and industry standards should be in place to protect individuals from excessive data collection and misuse.

One potential solution is the development and implementation of privacy-enhancing technologies. These technologies, such as differential privacy, allow for aggregate data analysis while preserving individual privacy. Advertisers can still gain valuable insights without compromising personal information by anonymising and aggregating user data.

Moreover, the future of AI in advertising will require ongoing dialogue and collaboration between advertisers, technology companies, policymakers, and users. Open discussions about the ethical implications of AI-driven advertising and input from various stakeholders can lead to the establishment of responsible practices and guidelines.


The Future of AI Is Here

AI technology is reshaping the advertising landscape, making it increasingly challenging to escape targeted advertisements. Using personal data, predictive algorithms, and advanced targeting options, such as those offered by Facebook, has created a digital environment where ads are tailored to individual preferences and behaviours.

As users, it is essential to be aware of the extent to which personal data is being used and take steps to protect privacy. Algorithmic guardians and increased transparency in data usage could pave the way for a more ethical and user-centric advertising future.