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Artificial Intelligence in Online Advertising Personalized Advertising and its Consequences for Sustainability

Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are used widely in all sectors, including online marketing. One of the most relevant applications in this domain is personalized advertising. It uses digital information on online users to deliver ads that are tailored specifically to consumers in terms of content, time, shape etc. This approach is also known as microtargeting and relies on comprehensive online tracking systems.

The advertising industry uses AI for mining digital data, learning from it and finally targeting persons as accurate as possible to increase advertising effectiveness. The ecosystem of players and actors behind personalized advertising is highly complex and relatively opaque. At the same time, most stages of the personalized advertising lifecycle are in the hand of only a few digital tech companies.

This comes with implications for both advertising markets and target groups. By means of an online survey and expert interviews, we shed light on how actors from industry, research and civil society perceive personalized advertising. We draw conclusions on implications for sustainability and political regulation.