An Example of Why Online Marketing Requires Public Scrutiny: An Ad Network that will “find the individuals that matter”

The vast system of online marketing has implications for how we define ourselves and are viewed by others.  It’s simplistic to say that online marketing is really only about sending the “right” ad to the right person  at the right time.  The tremendous amount of data and consumer tracking raises fundamental questions about the kind of society we are creating.  Here’s how a relatively new ad network–Rocket Fuel--describes what they do.  It’s an excerpt and not meant to single them out for criticism.  But it’s emblematic of a philosophy that must be vetted for its direction and implications:  “Our technology focuses on finding desirable audience characteristics rather than mere impressions. Through rapid automated testing and user-level targeting we find the individuals that matter…An ad server makes billions of decisions per day, tens of thousands of decisions per second, about which ad to serve for a given online impression…”

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