For decades, targeted advertising was limited. Men were cursed to see ads for women’s sanitary products and women had to tolerate ads targeted at men’s health. Many dollars have been spent on prospective consumers that were not going to be buying a company’s products.

But today, the world of marketing has changed. No more are the married continuously forced to see ads for dating websites. No more are single people constantly bombarded with ads for engagement jewelry. With the evolution of technology has come the evolution of targeted marketing and advertising.

Many complain when they check their Facebook account and notice sidebar ads featuring products they had been searching for only moments ago. “It’s annoying. It’s creepy. It’s invasive.”

These things can certainly be considered to be true for consumers and there are ways to bypass some targeted advertising online. But would consumers rather go back to seeing ads that are not at all relevant to their lives? In the world of business and marketing, having specific information on who your potential consumers are and what kind of products they’re interested in is not only good for a company, but is good for the consumer.

We are not forced to buy a product for which we see an ad and if we see an ad that helps us make a decision about a purchase, then it has in fact been helpful and not just a waste of time.

A poll done for the Wall Street Journal in April found that 54% of consumers prefer ads that are more relevant to them. This changed, however, when they were asked about “targeted” advertising. Then, only 48% of consumers preferred “targeted” over “non-targeted” ads.

Targeted advertising is still being refined, though it is still considered more effective than non-targeted advertising.

Like Tom Goosman recently said on AdAge, “…Using non-personal information designed to limit seeing the same ad over and over (don’t you wish TV did that?) or serving you a tire ad after you’ve searched a couple of tire websites, isn’t just about improving ad effectiveness. It should also improve relevance.”

Many internet based platforms including Hulu, YouTube, Google, Twitter, and Facebook along with many other online companies participate in targeted advertising. For consumers, it’s more valuable information and for company’s seeking to spread the word on their products, it’s more cost effective.

In this internet age, the choice remains with the consumer to bypass targeted advertising. Analyzing the risk of seeing ads for an Audi Quattro when you’re a reluctant Toyota Sienna person is just a part of that choice.