Dissing the FTC’s Privacy and Online Marketing Efforts: Some Behavioral Targeting Marketers

At Monday’s OMMA conference, what was both astounding and sad was the almost total absence of corporate responsibility regarding data privacy (among many other issues, which we will turn to later). At a workshop sponsored by Blue Lithium (now being acquired by Yahoo!) a company exec remarked that the current FTC inquiry into digital marketing and privacy wouldn’t result in any serious change. He suggested the FTC would, in essence, `go away,’ just as it did after the establishment of the meaningless NAI self-regulation guidelines in 2000. Those rules were put in place to quell any serious FTC action on online profiling.

The online ad industry should admit there’s a real problem, with privacy and many of the techniques underlying interactive marketing. Then we can move on to meaningful safeguards. Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt from the handy guide Blue Lithium distributed Monday, entitled “Behavioral Targeting: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.” “Behavioral targeting tracks consumer Internet activity (sites and sections/pages of sites visited, links clicked on, ads seen and responded to or not responded to)…Behavioral targeting follows an audience around the Web…Placed on a homepage, product or category page or into an ad unit, the behavioral targeting pixel marks each visitor. Later, this data is used to target prospects as they visit other sites across the Web.”

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

Leave a Reply