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  • Ads in magazines or on billboards show the same message to everyone reading them.

  • But, for online ads, we can switch things up.

  • Online ads can use geographic targeting and cookies to target their messages so you see the right ad at the right time.

  • Ad servers can deduce a user's geographic location by their IP address, which is like a zip code for your computer.

  • For example, by knowing your IP address, advertisers can serve an offer specific to your area.

  • Ad servers also recognize users based on cookie information.

  • You may see more relevant ads based on prior visits you've made to an advertiser's site.

  • Say you've just been eyeing a pair of super cool kicks on a company's website.

  • Later in the day, you might see an ad from that same company where they're offering free shipping.

  • Free shipping sounds great, but... let's talk about those cookies.

  • Cookies are text files assigned to your browser once you've visited a website.

  • When you go back to that website, it'll see that your browser has the cookie and will read it.

  • The cookie helps the site recognize your browser, and will restore any information you might have entered before.

  • You can see examples of cookies in action if you return to a site and don't have to sign in again.

  • Or when you return to a retail site to find your items patiently waiting for you in your shopping cart.

  • These are examples of first-party cookiescookies set by the site that you're on.

  • It's important to keep in mind that cookies are anonymous.

  • The text file associates a random unique number with the computer and browser.

  • So, if you use different devices or browsers to visit the same website, each browser will have a different cookie.

  • There are also third-party cookies.

  • These are used by ad servers.

  • Online ads use third-party cookies to recognize the same user across multiple websites.

  • That free shipping ad we mentioned earlier? That's an example of third-party cookies at work.

  • When you went to to check out those shoes, they allowed their ad server to set a third-party cookie on your browser.

  • So, when you visited that news site later in the day, the ad server recognized their cookie and used the information in it to show you that offer.

  • Geographic targeting and cookies help advertisers show relevant messages to potential customers,

  • and they sometimes even help customers get deals on stuff they buy online.

Ads in magazines or on billboards show the same message to everyone reading them.

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