Mollen, A. et al.Artificial intelligence in online marketing – Personalized advertising and its consequences for sustainability

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Anne Mollen, Kilian Vieth-Ditlmann, Vivian Frick, Gesa Marken, Andreas Meyer, Friederike Rohde, Frieder Schmelzle & Josephin Wagner

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AlgorithmWatch (Ed.), SustAIn-Magazin, AI and its consequences for sustainability, Berlin, pp. 14–25

Personalized online marketing is making great strides thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and marketing is considered one of the most important fields of application for AI applications. The business models of many tech companies are based on using the personal data of their users to display ads to specific target groups and thus generate advertising revenue. This approach is also known as microtargeting and is based on comprehensive online tracking systems.

The advertising industry uses AI to collect digital data, learn from it and ultimately target people as precisely as possible in order to increase the effectiveness of advertising. The ecosystem of players behind personalized advertising is very complex and relatively opaque. At the same time, most phases of the lifecycle of personalized advertising are in the hands of a few digital technology companies. This has an impact on both the advertising markets and the target groups.

Using an online survey and expert interviews, the authors shed light on how stakeholders from industry, the research community and civil society perceive personalized advertising. In terms of sustainability, this also means that more regulation and a move away from the principle of personalized advertising is required and that companies using AI technologies must be obliged to report on their energy consumption.

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