Online Marketplace Changing for Consumers

The World Wide Web has made its way into every aspect of daily life, rising to prominence at an unbelievable pace. As technological advances and public consumption continue to fuel the meteoric advancement of Internet-based activities, the Web undergoes simultaneous changes impacting users.

Countless human interactions, once conducted in-person, are now replaced by Web-based versions pledging simplicity and instantaneous results. But has the Web shifted from a promising consumer venue, to one dominated by a few large players bent on capturing sales revenue?

Making money on the Internet has kept up with the increased commitment of users who now engage in high levels of consumerism online. Shopping, bill-paying, watching movies and countless other activities have migrated to online venues, but unfortunately so has the ability to harvest information from consumers.

Valuable Information There for the Taking
One of the impacts of Internet proliferation is rapid transfers of information. The Web doesn’t make distinctions about the content being exchanged, facilitating high-volumes of information changing hands continually. However, self-interested promoters have also kept-up with technology – sometimes controlling it themselves, in order to maximize their own financial benefits.

As users continue to contribute to all the personal information being compiled online; adding pictures, details, and other personal data to online accounts, it plays directly into the hands of search providers and other Internet heavy-hitters poised to exploit access to personal information.

Paying bills and accomplishing other tasks online simplifies life for savvy-Internet users, but it can also be argued that it creates risk for consumers who use Web services to conduct personal business. While early Internet concerns revolved around viruses and malicious attacks online, surfers are becoming increasingly aware of the intrusive habits of legitimate Internet players. Among them: Customer profiling and data collection around every corner.

Search providers, for instance, control what the public gets to see when they enter queries online. While the service seems innocuous at first, imagine the power attached to controlling consumer activities from the first moment search terms are entered.

Knowing what is being searched and who is searching for it represents a golden goose for opportunists willing to sell the information, or use it for their own marketing purposes. There is no doubt that the Internet is controlled by a small number of primary players, each serving its own interests. The ability to make money online these days is always funneled through these big-time interests, allowing them to shave their own cuts off the top. And since these are the pioneers of information technology, crafting the infrastructure to reflect their own corporate interests is easily accomplished.

Data collection is highly transparent at times, logging information submitted intentionally by users. Signing up for an email newsletter or other promotional materials is an example of active participation by surfers. But the data collected online is not limited to information you want to share; instead, your entire online profile is fair game, to be sold, traded, and resold again, until marketers have squeezed every drop of potential from your Internet lead.

Information shared online takes on a life of its own, so Web-savvy consumers know where to draw the line. Unfortunately, data collection and user profiling escapes even the closest scrutiny of Web surfers. As a result, the playing field has changed online, subjecting users to increased pressure from online marketers.

About the Author
This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to brooks.sarah23 @

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