Personalization and Privacy

On the Internet, It’s All About ‘My’

For all its ubiquity, the concept of corporations trying to get up close with consumers is sometimes greeted warily by even those in the marketing community. “It’s a cold, calculated and impersonal attempt to be personal,” said [Igor’s Jay] Jurisich, who says his firm shuns “my” URLs. “It’s about making Big Brother into little brother. No one in their right mind should think, oh, the corporate entity really cares about me personally. But I can only assume that enough people fall for it that companies don’t ditch it.” In a recent survey conducted by OTX, a consumer market research firm, one-third of respondents agreed that a Web site with a “my” function meant “the company cares about me.”

Another major benefit for companies behind those Web pages is the personal data, including e-mail addresses and preferences, that customers provide when registering at one of the sites. “It’s all about the database and getting that personal information,” said Shelley Zalis, the founder of OTX. “That’s what everyone wants.”