BBC Signs up with Doubleclick: Privacy out the window, along with Beeb staff?

It’s interesting to watch the tandem work of Google and Doubleclick, even prior to the proposed merger. Doubleclick was just signed-up by the BBC to handle its forthcoming interactive display paid advertising on (the Beeb better explain to all its users what will happen with those digital crumpets placed on their computers–I mean cookies, pixels, and other digital spy techniques). Here’s how NMA magazine [sub required] reports it: “BBC Worldwide has appointed DoubleClick to handle display ads on, following last week’s green light to allow advertising on the international site... It will also be responsible for the pre-roll advertising on through its existing BBC World deal. DoubleClick will work with BBC Worldwide’s internal sales team…The ads will only be served to users outside of the UK…” (Doubleclick already works with the BBC, handling ads for BBC World and the Beeb’s magazine).

Last March, the BBC signed a deal with Google’s YouTube, calling it a “ground-breaking partnership.” Meanwhile, the BBC is drastically cutting staff and reducing news budgets, as it faces reduced public funding. The reduction in funds for the world’s premier public service programmer–and the staff cuts–is a story unto itself–which we will eventually address. But the BBC should not be permitted to endorse a business model for online marketing where its users–even if not UK citizens and residents—are tagged, tracked, targeted, and sold to the highest behavioral targeting bidder. Unless safeguards are imposed, online advertising could have an adverse impact on the diversity and integrity of the news. This deal should also behoove the BBC news staff to launch a major investigation into the Google and Doubleclick merger, inc. how such a merger will impact public affairs programming.

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Google Becomes a member of the Nielsen "family." Threats to our Privacy as we watch TV

Few readers may recall when Norman Lear’s “Mary Hartman” realized that she and her fellow patients at a psychiatric facility watched a Nielsen ratings-connected TV set. Lear’s critique that the TV rating system that has determined success for the TV business is deeply flawed and–frankly, crazy– is still true. But Google (and Doubleclick’s) move to monitor and analyze our viewing on TV and other platforms is just as insane–if we want to protect our privacy. “Google has been reporting millions of second-by-second data points to its TV Ads clients,” explains MediaDaily News. “Ultimately, Google expects TV’s interactive capabilities to improve to the point that it is generating the same kind of immediacy and backchannel as the Internet.” [from an interview with Mike Steib, director of Google TV Ads].

We doubt cable and DBS subscribers recognize that they are now involuntary members of the Nielsen/Google data tracking combine. Here’s how Multichannel News reports on the deal: “By combining Nielsen demographic data with aggregated set-top box data, Google plans to provide advertisers and agencies with comprehensive information…We have millions of set-top boxes that belong to EchoStar from which EchoStar is pulling data and is providing it to us for the Google TV Ad system: It’s a lot of data points,” Steib said…Advertisers can better understand exactly how their ad is performing and make near real-time changes to their TV advertising campaigns to deliver better ads to viewers, according to Google.

“One of the things we haven’t been able to provide to our advertisers to date, when we report back the very next day the impressions that they’ve received from the set-top boxes, we have not yet reported demographics and audience composition,” he said. “We are now going to be able to make that information available to our advertisers”…Google and Nielsen claim that as a result of their new partnership, this is the first time that advertisers and agencies will have such a level of detailed measurement available in a single place and at such a large scale.”

We hope Congress and the FTC will step in to prevent the entire TV viewing population from becoming involuntary drafted into the Nielsen/Google data collection, profiling, and targeting system.

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GoogleClick: "access to the bulk of the

Via SearchEngineWatch: Excerpt: “Is Google moving towards being a total online advertising resource? Absolutely, they have search, analytics, content publishing resources both with AdSense and the newly added YouTube, and now an ad serving platform with video and rich media expertise – but also tracking abilities for the source of the pageviews, and more importantly the ability to monitor behavior across all sources of traffic.

Add DoubleClick and Google now has access to the bulk of the world’s online behavior. Not only search behavior, but anywhere they are controlling the ads. Impression and click counts are not the only thing they gain buying DoubleClick.

They tried to get the world to give them access to online behavior when they bought Urchin and started giving away online analytics. Fortunately the majority of online companies decided to keep paying independent third parties – though Google would have had no problem forcing out all the web analytics companies that needed to have their customers pay for their programs.

The buy of DoubleClick is another end run – sure Google is claiming they will not use this information – bit hard not to collect it – but with each step Google is fast becoming Big Brother.”

“Google, DoubleClick: Myths and Facts.” Frank Watson. October 22, 2007

Google Branded Advertising Future, via

Take a quick look at Tangozebra, especially its ad gallery. It will help you better understand where Google is headed (as if its 3Q analyst call didn’t say volumes!). DoubleClick acquired Tangozebra last March.

Google & Verizon Meet on 700 MHz: Detente Coming?

Just an excerpt from Monday’s Communications Daily.

[Verizon lobbyist and former Congressman Tom] “Tauke…confirmed he had visited Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. Google invited him, he said… “I’m not the business guy, so I’m not going to say that I came away with any sense from the meeting as to where the future is on the 700 MHz auction or other things,” said Tauke, Verizon’s executive vice president for public affairs, policy and communications. “But clearly, when you look at what they do and what we do, there are some great opportunities, as there are with many other companies.” Google wants to get its applications and services such as Google Maps onto mobile phones, and Verizon wants its customers to have access to those services too, Tauke said. “It’s a matter of getting the right devices, having the right protections for the customer and being able to figure out how to use the technology and the new opportunities that are out there in a way that will serve both companies well as well as serve our customers,” he said.”

from: Tauke Hints of Talks With Google Over 700 MHz. Communications Daily. Oct. 22, 2007.

Privacy, Antitrust, and the GoogleClick Deal: Addressing the Consumer Harms

As the debate grows over Google’s growing threats to consumer privacy, we want to point to an important paper given to FTC today. It’s by Peter Swire, who is a professor and senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. The full document can be accessed here. Here’s a key excerpt from “Protecting Consumers: Privacy Matters in Antitrust Analysis.” Peter Swire. Center for American Progress. 10/19/2007.

“The proposed merger may illustrate one such effect on quality. Currently, an individual using search at Google and clicking on the occasional ad has one or more cookies set by Google. (Individuals may also use one or more fully-identified products of Google’s, such as through Gmail.) Google has much less information, however, about where the individual goes after leaving the Google sites. Google often has “deep” information about an individual’s actions, such as detailed information about search terms. Currently, DoubleClick sets one or more cookies on an individual’s computers, and receives detailed information about which sites the person visits while surfing. DoubleClick has “broad” information about an individual’s actions, with its leading ability to pinpoint where a person surfs.

If the merger is approved, then individuals using the market leader in search may face a search product that has both “deep” and “broad” collection of information. For the many millions of individuals with high privacy preferences, this may be a significant reduction in the quality of the search product—search previously was conducted without the combined deep and broad tracking, and now the combination will exist. I am not in a position to quantify the harm to consumers from such a reduction in quality.”

We wrote about the interactive TV company Visible World in our book, Digital Destiny. Backed by Comcast, Time Warner & WPP, Visible World is know for its “IntelliSpot” technology designed to create precisely targeted “customized” TV commercials (based on the information they know about you, even in your household. Among the targeting parameters used by IntelliSpot’s broadband service include zip code, content classification, time of day/day of week, demographics, & same user viewer number. There is also “advanced targeting”  They use “unique” URL’s and “beacons” to measure the impact of the ad ). Now, Visible World has teamed with Doubleclick, in a move which should be viewed in the context of a Google takeover. Here’s the new service described in yesterday’s release:

The combination of intelliSpot(R) and DoubleClick Rich Media and Video, is designed to provide advertisers with the ability to easily create and monitor hundreds or thousands of versions of their video creative messages and dynamically deliver the exact optimized message to each Web browser across hundreds of Web sites. For example, an automotive dealer group could feature the pictures and addresses of their local dealers within the video seen by end users within a specific geographical area.

“Working with Visible World, we’re able to incorporate some of the best practices from the television world online. By combining the engaging nature of customized video with the advantages of online advertising, our clients are well positioned to enable a whole new era of advertising effectiveness,” said Ari Paparo, vice president of rich media at DoubleClick.”

In what should raise privacy and competition concerns, read how Clickz describes it (excerpt):

“Pairing a history of geographically-targeted ads with an expertise in rich media ad delivery and reporting, DoubleClick and Visible World will combine their platforms to deliver highly-targeted online video advertising to their clients.

The deal links DoubleClick’s DART ad management platform and rich media and video technology with Visible World’s intelliSpot system, which has primarily been used to advertise on cable channels. Users of the premium service will be able to create online video and rich media campaigns managed through the DART system, yet be altered by the intelliSpot technology based on the viewer’s geographic location, to provide specialized content.

“We delivery the granular targeting of the creative message of Visible World through the DoubleClick network, but it simplifies the ad trafficking solution by saying here is a simple DART tag and behind it can be thousands of creative solutions,” said Andy Sheldon, vice president of broadband and wireless at Visible World…As a combined service, DoubleClick and Visible World will have access to one another’s client base, and both company’s logos will be attached to the technology, but campaigns will be managed through the DoubleClick system.”

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Acxiom [Echo] Targets Your Data

Today’s Wall Street Journal story on Acxiom’s broadening use of online and offline data is an important story. As we noted to Journal reporters, Acxiom has been acquiring behavioral targeting firms to broaden its reach. Last month, Acxiom took over EchoTarget, a “re-targeting and behavioral network.” Acxiom, said Greg Smith (former EchoTarget CEO and now an Acxiom honcho), “recognized” that “clients are really taking BT [behavioral targeting] seriously.” Here Acxiom’s vision for its future, according to Rich Howe, chief marketing and strategy officer [my italics]:

“We can go to our clients that are looking to tie all their marketing programs in a single platform. The largest clients we deal with have these large marketing data warehouses that are already built, and large investments made, and they want to fully monetize that by including the digital capabilities. You are not going to do away with direct mail. It will continue to be a big part of the spend for big customers. We can complement all of the techniques you have had in that world with the other channels like email and search and Web site optimization, and of course trying to leverage display advertising as a means to build product or just sell products. It is multichannel play. That is the game we are playing.”

Yesterday, Acxiom officially unveiled, according to MediaPost, [my italics] “its Relevance-X products designed to allow marketers to make online media buys using an ad network targeting specific customer segments based on their predictive lifestyle and purchase intent profiles. “We’re really excited about this,” said Rich Howe, Acxiom’s chief marketing and strategy officer. “We’re bringing our knowledge and experience in direct marketing to the online channels to give clicks context–going far beyond basic information such as age, gender and household income to include the attitudes, beliefs and lifestyles of consumers that are much more predictive.”

Acxiom also acquired last Spring a company called Kefta, which it called “the leader in real-time, dynamic personalization solutions for the Internet.” Here’s a another quote from the Acxiom release on the deal [our italics]: “Kefta’s dynamic targeting solution delivers timely, relevant content to website visitors based on their unique online behavior and individual characteristics, thereby helping marketers boost response, revenues and customer loyalty. By recognizing and responding to the different needs of customers online, Kefta helps marketers deliver relevant and personalized marketing messages in real time on websites, search engines, banners and e-mails.”

In a 2007 “white paper” titled “Creating High-Precision Marketing Intelligence with Consumer-Centric Analytics,” Acxiom explains that its “integrated consumer information management” approach includes access to [my italics] “Real-time data — Real-time interactions with consumers (reflected in “hand-raising signals” such as in-bound calls, requests for information, responses to e-mail campaigns and on-line search/research click-stream data) that is captured from across an enterprise and analyzed further deepens the ability to understand specific consumers and to predict future behavior. Acxiom ConnectionPoint-XTM provides this real-time capability to fuse these behavioral signals about consumers’ interests or demand with a consumer information database.

Meanwhile, the Journal story says that Acxiom “briefed the FTC on its targeting plans and the regulators didn’t raise significant objections.” The FTC spokesperson cited in the story suggested that wasn’t true. We need to know what exactly was presented to the FTC by Acxiom and what, if anything, was said by the FTC. But it does illustrate one of our core concerns. The FTC has to face the facts about the new realities and threats to our privacy from data collection and interactive marketing. The FTC has to act now and protect consumers.

PS: Just a FYI for EU privacy officials & advocates. Your data is being analyzed by Acxiom as well. Here’s a press release excerpt: “Axiom(R) Corporation today announced the introduction of an enhanced consumer segmentation solution that will allow marketers to grow their business through a better understanding of their consumers within a country coupled with the ability to compare those consumers across countries. The new solution, Personicx(R) International, results from the combination of Acxiom’s customer data management expertise and the extensive data assets attained when Acxiom acquired Claritas Europe and Consodata last year. Bruce Carroll, Acxiom’s Strategic Development Leader explained the difference Personicx International will bring to marketers: “Traditionally, marketers rely on country-specific demographics and geodemographic systems such as Acxiom’s Personicx product. These solutions are optimised to perform within a given country and as a result do not allow for effective comparison of consumers between countries. Personicx International changes that… The new system is being made available internationally starting with the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, the U.S., Poland, the Netherlands, and Portugal and underlines Acxiom’s intentions following the acquisitions it has made over the last 18 months. “Creating Personicx International would not have been possible without access to the large data assets we now have,” Kevin Zaffaroni, Acxiom’s Leader for Europe, Asia and Australia, said. “We’re taking existing information but using new approaches to help marketers do things and achieve results that just weren’t possible before.”

Google & DoubleClick Mobile [plus Jaiku]=a Dart to Privacy

DoubleClick is promoting, via full-page ads in the U.K. trades, its new DoubleClick Mobile service “Introducing a new way to serve ads on small screens,” touts the copy. It goes on to say that online marketers can “[U]se Doubleclick Mobile to sell and managage mobile advertising with the same team and tools you use for your display and rich media business.” Here’s what DC’s “Mobile Overview” tells marketers [excerpt]: “As you engage your audience on the mobile platform you have the opportunity to take control of your revenue and operations with DoubleClick Mobile. You can capture more dollars from your mobile content by adding dynamically served mobile display ads and destination offers…Just as online banners are uploaded into DART, mobile banners and mobile companion jump pages are uploaded into and served by DART. Mobile specific targeting criteria can be set within the DART interface, including content, device and capability targeting…DoubleClick Mobile helps you deliver ads to mobile devices worry-free through our database of over 3,000 handsets indetifying each device’s unique screen size and capabilities…”

On its website, DC says that its Mobile service allows marketers to “[S]et mobile-specific targeting criteria for dynamically served mobile display ads, including content, device and capability targeting.” In the UK, DC explains that: “DoubleClick Mobile tracks impressions, third party impressions, clicks and jump page conversions. Tracking mechanisms meet the unique requirements for mobile delivery, and care has been taken to ensure compliance with network operators.”

Pixelating Privacy: Here’s what ClickZ said about the new DC mobile service: “DoubleClick Mobile aims to bring “a lot of heavy iron” [said DC VP Ari Paparo] to the developing marketplace for ads on handsets. The product is capable of pairing ads with content…In addition to standard mobile display ads, it supports ad formats such as combination ads and roadblocks. Through pixel-based ad tracking, agencies and other third parties can access campaign performance data through their own campaign reporting systems.”

Finally, we think Google’s new acquisitions (such as Zingku] in the mobile area bear examining, esp. for privacy implications. Google also just bought Jaiku, a Finnish company. Here’s how Jaiku describes its service: “Jaiku’s main goal is to bring people closer together by enabling them to share their activity streams. An activity stream is a log of everyday things as they happen: your status messages, recommendations, events you’re attending, photos you’ve taken – anything you post directly to Jaiku or add using Web feeds. We offer a way to connect with the people you care about by sharing your activities with them on the Web, IM, and SMS – as well as through a slew of cool third-party applications built by other developers using our API.

The most powerful instrument of social peripheral vision is your mobile phone. We’ve put in a special effort to create Jaiku Mobile, a live phonebook that displays the activity streams, availability, and location of your Jaiku contacts right in your phone contact list. We modestly believe it is the best solution out there for seeing what your friends are up to.”

The future is now calling. Will we act to protect our privacy?

European Commission & Privacy Authorities Should Investigate Behavioral Targeting & Privacy Threats

As US and EU policymakers and privacy advocates gather for a discussion of the 1998 EU Data Directive and the subsequent “safe harbor” deal with the U.S., it’s time the EU recognize that they are overlooking new threats from online marketing. Anyone who follows online advertising in Europe knows that advanced forms of targeted interactive marketing and data collection is being pioneered in places like the U.K. While the Article 29 Working Groups has, fortunately, expanded its investigation on related issues, esp. IP address retention, it’s time EU-based privacy officials cracked down on behavioral targeting [BT]. Here is an excerpt from a recent online marketing trade article that illustrates how quickly BT is now part of everyday life in the EU:

“Behavioural targeting has come a long way in the U.S. in the past four years, but the rapid growth across Europe (and even in South Africa), is proving that a technology can be seamlessly integrated at the local, national and international levels without batting an eye…A major advantage that the European market has parlayed into behavioural targeting success is the clear identification of which categories behavioural targeting responds to the most positively, and then the clear understanding of how to make those categories successful…So, where is behavioural targeting going next in Europe? Recently we have seen behavioural targeting successfully implemented in The Netherlands (with Telegraaf Media Groep), one of the largest media companies in Portugal (Cofina) is in implementation and a major publisher in the Scandinavian
market is about to implement the technology. This expansion out across Europe into new markets is a direct result of the success seen in the U.K. and other markets and shows that behavioural targeting is just hitting its stride.

From: The past, present and future of behavioural targeting. Jeremy Mason. imediaconnection. Oct. 9, 2007.

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