April 28, 2005

So, Are You Inside, Or Outside, The Control Loop? [9:03 am]

And, how can you tell? Ads That Know What You Want

If you’re like many web users, you probably find it creepy that your local paper knows you’re looking for new wheels. Even so, advertisers are betting you’re far more likely to click on the car dealer’s ad than a random banner for a dating site or DVD rentals.

That’s the theory behind behavioral marketing — a growing niche in the online advertising industry focused on targeting promotional messages to an individual’s online activities. Some might call such tracking across websites by a less flattering name: adware. Marketers call it a promising revenue stream.

[...] Targeted marketing is nothing new in the online world, as anyone who’s ever received personalized book recommendations from Amazon.com can attest. However, by recording peoples’ movements over networks of web properties rather than just individual sites, some marketers are betting that they will be able to improve response rates to online ad campaigns dramatically.

[...] “It is probably true that people don’t mind getting more-relevant ads, but there’s a question of what they’re willing to do for it, and whether they understand the bargain at hand,” said Ari Schwartz, associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, which supports broader restrictions on online profiling.

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