Chapell & Associates

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tacoda to Serve Ads about Its Ads

ClickZ - November 8, 2006 - Call it a public service announcement for the behavioral targeting industry. Tacoda is making a preemptive strike with new ads explaining to consumers the role its technology plays in targeting messages to them. The firm's founder and Chairman Dave Morgan expects a "blow up" in the behavioral targeting industry over privacy concerns, he told ClickZ News during Tuesday's Federal Trade Commission hearings on "Protecting Consumers in the Next Tech-ade."

The Chapell View
I was at the FTC Tech-Ade hearings, but didn't see Dave speak. I think this is an interesting announcement for several reasons.

  • From a privacy perspective, it's interesting to see someone in the online media and technology space acknowledge that current mechanisms for providing Notice to consumers regarding their privacy preferences aren't really working. Many in the privacy space have been say that for a while now. And clearly, Regulators are paying attention.

  • From a tactical perspective, Tacoda appears to be playing upon the fears of advertisers. At least one FTC Commissioner (as well as other panelists) at Tech-ade referred to openly shaming advertisers who are advertising via Spyware and/or other nefarious advertising vehicles. The message here is "We're the good guys - work with us and you won't end up with your brand on the front cover of the NY Times as part of an FTC settlement." WhenU has made this argument for a while now, tho it isn't clear how successful it's been for them. I suspect Tacoda will have significantly more success as the BT space isn't so wholly negatively perceived... at least not yet.

  • Lastly, is Tacoda now driving the marketing with privacy standards? To early to tell if others (including the NAI and IAB) will follow their lead, but this will be interesting to watch...
posted by Alan on Wednesday, November 08, 2006 | |

Microsoft Hops on the Behavioral-Targeting Bandwagon

ClickZ - November 8, 2006 - Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions recently hopped on the bandwagon of publishers offering behavioral targeting. I caught up with Meera Bhatia, group product planner at Microsoft, who gave me the lowdown on the offering.

Anna Papadopoulos: When did MSN begin offering behavioral targeting?

Meera Bhatia: We have been running internal and pilot programs for the last year, but we officially launched our offering on September 5.

The Chapell View
Sorry to rain on the parade here, folks. I 'm a big fan of Behavioral Targeting, and genuinely believe that it represents not only the future of online advertising - it represents a future that consumers can embrace. However....

There are at least 50 companies who currently offer some form of behavioral targeting services. Yet, fewer than half of them are currently listed as members of the Network Advertising Initiative, the industry trade association responsible for creating and (with the help of TRUSTe) enforcing privacy standards for Behavioral targeting.

At one time, the FTC applauded the NAI Principles for Online Preference Marketing (now more commonly referred to as Behavioral Targeting) as a vehicle for ensuring privacy via Notice and Choice mechanisms. But if the industry isn't fully embracing/adopting these standards, it would seem only a matter of time before Regulators step in.
posted by Alan on Wednesday, November 08, 2006 | |

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Reexamining online search privacy

The Daily Yomiuri Online - October 31, 2006 - You wouldn't tell your best friend. In some cases, you wouldn't even tell your spouse. But because of the seemingly anonymous nature of the Internet, most people don't think twice about the kind of personal information they reveal when performing an online search through services, such as Google and Yahoo. But is this information private? And are you really just an anonymous number or Internet address floating through cyberspace? The issue came to the fore this summer when AOL, the Internet Service Provider and subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. decided to voluntarily post three months of search queries on its Web site, representing the explorations of about 650,000 users. Even though AOL identified the search queries by number instead of names, it turned out to be surprisingly easy to piece together enough information to definitively identify at least some of the users.

The Chapell View
I like the concept of #Privacy, as it certain embraces the notice of consumer Choice when it comes to their privacy preferences. Two thoughts come to mind:

  • #privacy would require Users to append the string #privacy to their queries if they want to indicate that a search was private. I wonder how many users would bother to use that feature other than the die hard privacy evalgelists. Even if I wanted to use the feature, I'd probably forget to add the string to every search. Perhaps the search engines could insert a global on/off button so that User's wouldn't need to remember to add it each time they search.... My guess is that the major search engines would NOT, but perhaps a second or third tier search engine might.

  • #privacy would not facilitate privacy protection for illegal searches. Searching for term such as "Child Porn" is pretty easy to define as illegal. What about other items that might be legal in some jurisdictions, but not others? (Gambling comes to mind) When you get into specifics, what they are proposing might not be as simple as initially thought.

An interesting idea nonetheless - and another example of the continuing tension between search marketing and privacy...

posted by Alan on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 | |

© 2005 by Alan Chapell & Associates LLC