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What is microtargeting?

Microtargeting is a form of online targeted advertising that analyses personal data to identify the interests of a specific audience or individual in order to influence their actions. Microtargeting may be used to offer a personalised message to an individual or audience using an online service such as social media.

Microtargeting may determine what and how relevant content is delivered to an individual online and is sometimes used to market goods or services and for political marketing.

Example: if you like or follow a certain political party or ideology on a social media platform, personalised adverts related to that party or ideology may be displayed to you.

The main benefit of microtargeting to advertisers and individuals is that the adverts displayed to individuals will be more relevant and personalised.

How does it work?

Microtargeting works through the use of electronic tools including ‘Cookies’, ‘Social Plugins‘ and ‘Tracking Pixels’. These electronic tools typically track your browsing habits, likes and social interactions across the internet in order to build up a profile about you. This profile is used to tailor advertisements to your specific interests. Social media providers may include these electronic tools within their environments and on other websites interested in audience interactions and engagement.

Individuals may be targeted both by social media providers and third-parties operating on social media.

Example: if you are researching buying a new car, you may receive microtargeted advertisements from third-party car manufacturers, organisations selling cars, or organisations selling car insurance products based on your research activities.

How can I limit microtargeting on social media?

Social media providers offer a suite of tools to assist users in tailoring their interaction and information sharing when using social media, including the ability to limit microtargeting. These tools are typically offered under headings such as “Settings” or “Account Settings”.