March 11, 2009

Scylla and Charybdis [8:03 am]

Tough navigation for anyone — is this going to make the cut? Google to Offer Ads Based on Interests (pdf)

Google will begin showing ads on Wednesday to people based on their previous online activities in a form of advertising known as behavioral targeting, which has been embraced by most of its competitors but has drawn criticism from privacy advocates and some members of Congress.

Perhaps to forestall objections to its approach, Google said it planned to offer new ways for users to protect their privacy. Most notably, Google will be the first major company to give users the ability to see and edit the information that it has compiled about their interests for the purposes of behavioral targeting. Like rivals such as Yahoo, it also will give users the choice to opt out from what it calls “interest-based advertising.”

Privacy advocates praised Google’s decision to give users access to their profiles.

A counter-example: Advertisers Get a Trove of Clues in Smartphones (pdf)

The millions of people who use their cellphones daily to play games, download applications and browse the Web may not realize that they have an unseen companion: advertisers that can track their interests, their habits and even their location.

[...] Eswar Priyadarshan, the chief technology officer of Quattro Wireless, which places advertising for clients like Sony on mobile sites, says he typically has 20 pieces of information about a customer who has visited a site or played with an application in his network. “The basic idea is, you go through all these channels, and you get as much data as possible,” he said.

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