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Who's tracking you? How advertisers use your online information

MILWAUKEE ( CBS 58) – Do you ever feel like your phone is listening to you? Some people are creeped out by relevant ads popping up on their social media pages. CBS 58’s Whitney Martin looked into the way companies are using our information to flood us with ads on social media.

“They could be collecting data in ways you’re not realizing.”

What seems like a typical photo on Stephanie Bray’s Facebook page is gold for Facebook advertisers, companies tracking our every post, trying to make a quick buck on the things we love most.

Bray’s love for the Packers runs so deep, 10% of her posts are dedicated to the Green and Gold. The information, coming from New Berlin’s GMR Marketing, a company showing us for the first time why those ads on our social media aren’t such a coincidence.

“One of the things that we do here is called social listening. We are able to go out there and say ‘are you wearing a shirt with a special logo and we can actually tie that back to an account, that’s a little creepy at time, but it actually gives us enough information,” says Dennis Jenders, VP of Digital and Social at GMR Marketing.

Dennis Jenders runs GMR’s social media department. He says some businesses have the ability to track our location using our phones GPS technology, targeting ads based on our path to and from work.

“So you can draw a location on a map. So, imagine a 64x64 grid and you served a different ad in each one of those grids. So when they open up their app, I can say well they were in grid two and grid three,” explains Jenders.

Jenders says most of our credit cards are linked directly to our accounts.

“All of that info is itemized. The date you made the purchase, what we bought, and who we are,” Jenders told CBS 58’s Whitney Martin.

Jenders says the same rings true for those store loyalty cards. The more information we provide, the harder companies will work to reel us in and their methods are evolving.

“Everything can be recorded and used against you so to speak when it comes to advertising because thy know what you’re into. They are listening to the words and collecting the things they need to do. Just because they can, doesn’t mean they do,” says Dave Stamm.

While Bray continues to post on social media, she understands it’s more than just friends and family following.

There are ways to limit advertising from being able to track you, but completely getting rid of it is nearly impossible.

You may wonder, why is GMR letting us in on these secrets? The company says it prides itself in connecting people to experiences so while we may not like every ad on our Facebook, it still gives us an opportunity to win free things and get coupons.

Experts say we can clear our cookies on our phones and computers and if we don’t want as many tailored ads. To change your ad settings on Facebook, click here.

As for our phones listening to us and giving us relevant ads, GMR says they aren’t doing that just yet, but we should make sure our microphones and location are turned off if we’re still worried.

Facebook has denied claims in the past that it is eavesdropping.


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