Surveillance advertising, also known as targeted advertising or behavioral advertising, is the practice of showing individual consumers different advertisements based on inferences about their interests, demographics, and other characteristics drawn from tracking their activities over time and space. It raises many concerns for consumers, including the potential for discrimination, manipulation, unfair treatment, identity theft, and law enforcement access to personal information. It is extremely difficult for consumers to avoid the tracking and profiling that underpins the surveillance advertising ecosystem. Furthermore, surveillance advertising does not necessarily deliver the benefits that businesses are promised. These fact sheets created by Consumer Federation of America explain how surveillance advertising works, how the tracking is done, how discrimination and other adverse impacts may occur, who really benefits from surveillance advertising, and why contextual advertising is a good alternative.

Surveillance Advertising: What is it?

Surveillance Advertising: What About Discrimination?

Surveillance Advertising: Does it Benefit Small Business?

Surveillance Advertising: Good for Consumers or the Ad Tech Industry?

Surveillance Advertising: How Does the Tracking Work?

Surveillance Advertising: Is Contextual Advertising a Better Alternative?

Surveillance Advertising: Diagram of How it Works

Surveillance Advertising Infographic