Wondering how so many advertisers get a hold of your details? Had enough of your data being passed around? This introductory guide will help to demystify the hidden world of data trading.

Your phone is ringing. You’re expecting a call back on a job interview so you excitedly grab it and answer and… it’s a telecoms company you’ve never heard of, trying to sell you some phone deal you don’t want. Somehow they know your name. And where you live.

You tell them not to bother you anymore and hang up. Deep breath.

Sound familiar? Unwanted advertising and sales contact has unfortunately become a fact of life. In fact, spam accounts for more than half of all email traffic, and there were more than 17bn spam calls last year.

Even when you aren’t being directly contacted with sales and advertising efforts, you might have noticed that being online increasingly feels like being followed around by a bunch of salespeople. Every site has a selection of ads tailored specifically to you in a way that can often feel more invasive than helpful.

If you’ve had enough of feeling tracked and harassed, read on, because we can help do something about it.

How Your Data is Bought and Sold

You might wonder how all these companies even got your details in the first place.

There is, in fact, a huge and largely hidden industry built entirely around gathering personal data and selling it on to other companies. Alongside name and contact details, information such as your spending habits and lifestyle choices are highly valued by companies looking to create more targeted sales, advertising and marketing campaigns. This is where the advertising technology (or Adtech) industry comes in.

The major players in this hidden ecosystem are the data brokers. There are thousands of these companies, and they specialise in gathering data from a wide variety of sources and turning into usable lists for resale. Loyalty cards can be used to generate a huge amount of data about you for example, and almost every website you visit and app you use will actively harvest your information. Nearly three out of four Android apps contain a tracker gathering data for use by third parties.

Putting Data into Action

Here’s a quick rundown on how the mysterious data industry works. Hopefully, you’re you ready for some acronyms though, because there are a lot of them.

First, we have the data management platform (DMP), a service which collects data from all the different sources and organises it into a form that can be used for targeting campaigns.

Next is the DSP (demand-side platform), is another service used to purchase advertising across different digital spaces such as mobile, video and so on. The advertiser can input all the data from a DMP, such as behaviour, demographic and location, and use the DSP to create targeted ads.

Finally, we have the supply-side platform (SSP), which performs a similar role to the DSP, but works for the ad publisher rather than the host. These two working together are why so many websites seem to know so much about you.

While creating targeted advertising is the main reason your data is collected by the Adtech industry, the huge databases it creates have been freely bought, sold, stolen and leaked over the years. Less ethical brokers will sell on your details with no questions asked, and data breaches mean that the details of tens of millions of people can be stolen in a single attack.

This has been going on behind your back for years, and it means that it’s been almost impossible to find who has your data, how they got it, and what they’re doing with it.

But not anymore.

myGaru is here to help you take back ownership of personal data.

Sign up to our waitlist today on https://mygaru.com/ to be amongst the first to test the beta version of the app, or follow our socials to stay up to date.

myGaru — Your Data is Personal Again