“Digital Body Language” & Online Financial Marketing–Can Be Hazardous to Your Privacy and Fiscal Health

For the last several years we have watched with dismay the largely stealth online data collection and targeting apparatus assembled for online financial marketing.  Everything from loans, credit cards, mortgages and insurance is increasingly sold online–an entire system has developed that stealthily `-e-rates’ us, including whether we are considered good prospects for various financial products.  Such “scores” become associated with us–without our knowledge.  Online lead generation is one field that helps financial online marketers and others identify whether we are the kind of person who should be pursued for a loan, for example.  One company explains that the:  “shift to online from face-to-face sales has crippled our ability to see body language when interacting with prospects leaving us less able to connect with prospects to determine their level of interest. The solution? Savvy marketers step in to read prospects’ “digital body language” and use that knowledge to guide the buying process. What web pages did prospects click on? What emails excited their interest? What breadcrumbs are they leaving that show their paths through the buying process?  Digital body language can arm sales people with deep insights into the areas and levels of interest of every prospect. Furthermore, digital body language allows marketers to determine which leads should be passed to sales at all.”

As the FTC and Congress–and we assume state regulators–work to ensure consumer protection in the digital marketing era, online financial services must be at the top of their agenda.

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.