August 27, 2006

Migration of the Online to the Real (World) [9:36 am]

A spooky summary of what may will be a book added to my reading list — and a prime example of how this emerging technology is slipping into the real world without much notice by policymakers or the public: Hidden messages - pdf

Meanwhile, marketers are also honing their ability to follow consumers wherever they go, using another method made more powerful by the changing media landscape — a method they call “behaviorial targeting.” If you have been looking up information about cars on the web, you may well start receiving car ads even when you’re not on auto sites, as ad companies can now track and deliver ads to you across hundreds of sites.

What’s more, the ads you see on the Web are increasingly tailored to what marketers perceive as your demographic — based on your age, where you live, your education, and your movements online and off. The latest technology, not yet implemented but coming soon, enables websites to customize the selection of articles and videos that reach you depending on what they know about you from your registration data, your movements on their site, and even information about you that they’ve purchased from a third party.

For now, such targeting is the province of the Web, but it won’t be long before it migrates to television and even to offline stores. [...]

[...] “We are not in control anymore, but that’s OK,” Benjamin Palmer, president of a hot Internet ad firm called The Barbarian Group, was recently quoted in Advertising Age. “If we do this right, we can actually have a good relationship with ‘the consumer’ for once.”

That’s the current line of many marketing and media practitioners. The problem is, from a consumer standpoint, they are not doing it right. Media firms are creating a new world order in marketing communication to make sure that their messages get through to us — and in ways that make it increasingly difficult for us to know who the messenger is, whether the message is trustworthy, and whether we’re getting the same offer as everyone else.

A familiar story.

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