How many times have you scrolled through Instagram, only to see an ad pop up about the most random thing you were just talking about with your friends? I swear it happens all too often. Most recently I was bombarded with inflatable pool flamingos after my friend had been talking to me about buying one. It was CREEPY and I swore Instagram was listening!
However, according to Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, the application we long thought was eavesdropping into all of our conversations, isn’t! In fact, it has no connection or access to the microphones in our phones!
If Instagram Isn’t Listening, Why Do We Get Such Specific Targeted Content?
His first explanation for the phenomenon? “Dumb luck,” which doesn’t seem quite like a sufficient answer for one of the most used and profitable applications in the world.
His other theory might leave you feeling a little more uneasy. Masseri said, “you might be talking about something because it’s top of mind because you’ve been interacting with that type of content more recently. It’s top of mind, maybe it’s subconscious and then it bubbles up later.” Meaning, you are likely interacting with content on social media and websites, without even realizing it!
Not Entirely A Coincidence…
It does make you wonder how often we surf the internet or scroll through instagram and like different ads, websites, and photos without registering what we are doing. That said, Mosseri does admit that the ads we see on Instagram are generated based on the accounts we follow and all the content we commented on or liked.
Another way that Instagram gives us “targeted ads” is by sorting each of its users into one of 52,000 ad-targeting categories. Talk about being specific! Just further proof that there is a deep digital algorithm behind all the content we see.
How To Avoid The “Creepy” Ads In The Future
On the one hand, we can rest assured that Instagram is not listening in to our most intimate (and ridiculous) of conversations. To avoid the creepy “I swear I was just talking about this” ads that pop up, it’s a wise decision to start paying more attention to all that we do while using our social media apps. Being more attentive instead of mindlessly scrolling and liking will help limit the shocking content.