Annals of Behavioral Targeting: New product designed to “to prompt a profitable response for every user”

Perfect timing for International Privacy Day.  A new behavioral targeting product that will soon be released.  Here’s an excerpt from the press release:  “TARGUSinfo, the leading provider of On-Demand Insight(SM) about prospects and customers, plans to unveil AdAdvisor(SM) services…a new predictive-targeting solution leveraging the industry’s largest repository of verified offline lifestyle and demographic information. “The power of AdAdvisor is that it enables ad networks, publishers and advertisers to serve the ad most likely to prompt a profitable response for every user based on the most predictive offline consumer information,”…When an ad network sees a user on its’ publisher network, AdAdvisor cookies relay precisely which segment they fall within and enables ad networks and publishers to serve the most relevant advertisement — from the moment they first encounter users.”…Extensive Coverage – More than 50 million unique cookies, each embedded with highly predictive data attributes.”

and from Targusinfo’s site:  “Each AdAdvisor cookie contains verified, household-level demographics, interests and purchase behaviors. Our cookies are then deployed to score Internet users according to their unique segment — enabling you to serve the ad most likely to trigger a response…

“We deliver unprecedented predictive power. Our cookie-based services deliver rich, offline consumer information to boost existing behavioral-targeting methods.”

The company’s privacy policy states that “AdAdvisor services place a cookie containing non-personally identifiable information on a user’s computer…AdAdvisor cookies enable Web sites using the Services to recognize users when they return to those Web sites…The cookies used by the Services do not contain any personally identifiable information. Instead, the cookie contains anonymous, non-personally identifiable categories of information which are derived as a result of a user’s registration through one of our registration partners.”

It’s not personally identifiable but, in their own words, “recognize users” when they return to sites!  It’s anonymous, but includes user “registration” data via third parties! This is another example of why the FTC and the Congress has to reform privacy safeguards.  The antiquated concept of what is considered personally identifiable has to brought into the 21st Century and the Obama Administration era.

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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