Customized Ad Banners?

I was surfing the net and landed on the Weather Channel site, The day before I had been on Amazon’s site and was looking at a record player. (yeah, I still have quite a few old records packed away that I haven’t played in years.) I even put it in my wish list. Fast forward to today on the site, I see an ad on the right for the exact same record player that I had put in my wish list! And the ad was for Amazon! How did they know?! I have enough experience with Analytics and such that I figured it somehow parsed some of my stored cookies and served me an ad tailored for me. However, if that’s the case, I’m pretty unnerved because another site other than the one that placed the cookie on my machine was reading that cookie. There’s all sorts of security and privacy issues that come to mind when you’re talking about that. So I’m wondering if anyone else has seen this phenomenon and it made them scratch their head and investigate it. If you have, feel free to leave a comment and discuss. I’m very curious as to how this is all done and how legal it is. I haven’t been able to reproduce it however and I closed the browser window out by mistake before I could investigate the code.

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