Behavioral Targeting Hits Road Block

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One New York assemblyman, Richard L. Brodsky, has drafted a bill that would make it a crime — punishable by a fine to be determined — for certain Web companies to use personal information about consumers for advertising without their consent.
There are essentially two main things in this bill

  1. Opt-out for anonymous user behavior: It will force Web sites to give consumers obvious ways to opt out of advertising based on their browsing history and Web actions.
  2. Opt-in for using PII data : Users would also have to give explicit permission before these companies could link the anonymous searching and surfing data from around the Web to information like their name, address or phone number.

My prediction about Behavioral targeting and privacy is coming true. Earlier this year, in my yearly predictions I said that this is year we will see a greater push for consumer’s privacy.
Here is what I said
"Behavioral Targeting will continue to grow this year; however, there will be greater push for protecting consumer privacy. The privacy concerns will result in:

  1. Clear instructions (or links) on Behaviorally Targeted Ads that will allow behaviorally targeted visitors to opt-out of Behaviorally Targeted advertising
  2. Opt-in system – Some networks (maybe new ones) will move towards opt-in rather than opt-out (I favor opt-in over opt-out as I wrote in past. So I am making this prediction that this year networks will pay attention to it). A new types of networks or services might come up which will allow users to be an active participant in BT and control who can use their online behavioral data and how they can use it."

Use of customer’s data without their consent created an uproar in UK last week. In response to the mess created by Phorm and British telecom, Sir Tim Berners-Lee said that his data and web history belonged to him.
He said "It’s mine – you can’t have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me. I have to agree, I have to understand what I’m getting in return."

This is just the beginning; I think, we will see greater push for consumer privacy as consumers become educated about how their data is being used to target them. I think it is time for publishers and ad networks to be proactive about educating customers on how their data is being used and give them clear options to opt-out (or better opt-in) of any targeting.

I am big proponent of Behavioral Targeting and Personalization but it has to be with user’s consent.


Behavioral Targeting Hits Road Block
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About Anil Batra

Anil has over 10 years of experience in Consulting, Business Intelligence, Web Analytics, Online Advertising and Behavioral Targeting. Anil helps companies use Web channel data to improve online business results (lead generation, conversion, retention and self-help metrics). Anil has helped several fortune 500 customers effectively use web analytics and increase their ROI on the web. Anil has worked with customers such as Microsoft, SmartMoney.com, ESPN, T-Mobile, Hoovers, Realnetworks, Starbucks, and TheStreet.com

Anil holds a B. Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from India and an MBA from University of Washington, Seattle. WebProNews Writer
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