The average American has their personal information shared in an online ad bidding war 747 times a day. For the average EU citizen, that number is 376 times a day. In one year, 178 trillion instances of the same bidding war happen online in the US and EU.
That’s according to data shared by the Irish Council on Civil Liberties in a report detailing the extent of real-time bidding (RTB), the technology that drives almost all online advertising and which it said relies on sharing of personal information without user consent.
The RTB industry was worth more than $117 billion last year, the ICCL report said. As with all things in its study, those numbers only apply to the US and Europe, which means the actual value of the market is likely much higher.
Real-time bidding involves the sharing of information about internet users, and it happens whenever a user lands on a website that serves ads. Information shared with advertisers can include nearly anything that would help them better target ads, and those advertisers bid on the ad space based on the information the ad network provides.
That data can be practically anything based on the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) audience taxonomy. The basics, of course, like age, sex, location, income and the like are included, but it doesn’t stop there. All sorts of websites fingerprint their visitors – even charities treating mental health conditions – and those fingerprints can later be used to target ads on