Note: This article was submitted by Cade Braas.
When you go onto your phone to scroll through social media or to google something, and you see an advertisement for something that you were talking about during a conversation the prior day, that is no coincidence. Companies such as Google and Facebook have technology put in place to monitor conversations and generate ads that pertain to what you talk about to others. The ad-based business model that the companies use is now under threat. The consumers and public as a whole have very little idea as to what is going on behind the scenes in these firms.
The European Union is diving deeper into the issue. The European regulators are investigating the issue to find out if it is ethical, and if it is harmful to competition between corporations. The way these advertisements are delivered, though, is very ambiguous, and it is hard to determine what all is going on behind the scenes. When regulators from the EU come to investigate these ad-based companies it may be hard to determine how is can be regulated, if it is even able to be regulated at all. At this point in time, the only thing the regulators can demand is that there be more transparency to what goes on in the ad market. There cannot be a regulation put in place, however, until there is a way to measure the activity of the ad market.
The other issue that arises from this is the question of, is this way of advertising safe for the public? The ad-based businesses bring in a large sum of information daily, and it is unclear who can access and use the information that is acquired. The other aspect the regulators have to consider and decide is if this way of advertising is manipulative to consumers. Taking information from people in a way that is secretive and then turning it around and putting an ad in their face is something that regulators will have to decide if it is allowed or not. This issue as a whole is rather new in the public eye. As more investigating goes on, these businesses will become more understanding and the industry will come along with it. Once the regulators reach a substantial understanding of the industry, it can be expected that regulation will be put in place to monitor these corporations worldwide.