All Tracking, All Predicting, All Targeting: Insights into how consumers are behaviorally targeted via the China digital ad market

We live in a world that is being increasingly shaped by the forces of digital advertising. It’s a largely global market after all, and there are very important developments in places such as China, India, and in the United Kingdom that have relevance for online privacy in the U.S. This description of the targeted online advertising model embraced by the China-based PinYou is very revealing of where behavioral targeting is today and headed [our emphasis]:

“The idea is really to understand consumers based on behaviors and profile them based on accumulated inputs. Instead of being reactive, we need to be predictive. Instead of indexing pages, or key words, we are indexing consumers Instead of creating preset segments, we understand multiple dimensions of consumers. As a result, we can deliver ads to the right consumers regardless where they are. We target a consumer not because he is now visiting a page, but rather because he has searched some key words, and he has visited certain sites, etc. As a result, different people see different ads when they log on the same page…The long term vision of PinYou is to allow advertisers to be able to come in and define the specific target consumers based on different dimensions for an advertising campaign. PinYou’s system will profile consumers based on multiple inputs, including demographics, psychographics, category interests, lifestyle and purchasing funnel. Through PinYou’s network of publishers, the ad will automatically appear whenever the target consumers visit the page. What Valueclick recently launched in the U.S “precision profiling” is similar to what we have in mind.”

Ms. Huang does say she is aware and concerned about the privacy issues (and refers to the current political debate in the U.S. over online behavioral tracking). You should read the interview. But to us, Ms. Huang primarily embraces a perspective echoed by online marketers in the U.S. that threatens consumer privacy.
source: “Interview with Grace Huang, Founder of Behavioral Targeting Startup PinYou.” Kaiser Koo. Ogilvy Digital Watch. Aug. 15, 2008

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.

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