More on the Claria Foray Into Clickstream Monitoring

E-Commerce Report: Every Click You Make, They’ll Be Watching You

WOULD you trust a company enough to let it follow your every click online?

Claria, a company once vilified for raining pop-up advertisements across the Internet through its Gator software, is betting its business that the answer is yes. Claria said it would announce Monday the release of PersonalWeb, a service that will let people download a piece of tracking software and receive a home page filled with news stories and other information tailored to their interests.

[…] Claria says that because those ads are so closely aligned to the user’s interests and recent behavior, marketers will be willing to pay more than they might on other sites for the ability to reach PersonalWeb users.

That part of Claria’s plan is convincing enough for some analysts, and privacy advocates appear satisfied that Claria will stand by its pledge to track only the computer (whose owner it does not identify), not the personal information of the user. Whether many consumers will use the service anyway — and give marketers an audience worth pursuing — is the big question.

“I’m not convinced that consumers will place enough of a value on personalization that they’ll be willing to download a piece of software and change their home page just to try it,” said Kenneth Cassar, an analyst with Nielsen/NetRatings, an Internet consultancy. “And it remains to be seen whether Claria’s personalization will yield something that much better than the typical home page of today.”

[…] “Claria’s likely to make a lot of people uneasy when they realize how much of their personal life is exposed through their Web surfing,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group.

While other companies are stopping short of asking consumers to expose their complete surfing habits, they are considerably more interested in personalizing their sites for consumers than they were a few years ago, said Michael Strickman, chief technology officer of ChoiceStream, which helps companies like Yahoo, America Online and others personalize the products or content they show to consumers.