Annals of Behavioral Targeting: Yahoo! targeting capabilities

From Yahoo Advertising [an excerpt:]

Demographic Targeting
Our more than 150 million registered users have told us a lot about themselves, including date-of-birth, zipcode, gender, and occupation, plus a wide range of self-identified interest areas. When added to standard 3rd party data, it adds up to an incredible array of demographic options.

Geographic Targeting
Based on zipcodes, we can target to states, DMA’s, election districts or virtually any other way of looking at the world by location.

Behavioral Targeting
Target visitors by what they are currently doing and have been doing. Looking for car shoppers, soccer moms or recent shoppers in any category? We have them…

Database Targeting
Match your customers with ours, and find lots more look-alikes, too.”

Marketers Urging Targeting of Hispanic Tweens, including via Mobile [Annals of Mobile Marketing]

There’s nothing to say except read what this marketer wrote for MediaPost’s Engage series.

Excerpt:  “To effectively reach Hispanic tweens…Don’t forget mobile. Many tweens already have cell phones, and they use them daily to text their friends. Text messages are a key way to connect with tweens, especially if you offer them a fun service, such as daily horoscopes, that doesn’t feel like an ad. Cell phone numbers can be collected right alongside emails in your lead-gen efforts. You get a branding boost, as well as their mobile number in your database for future text messaging campaigns.”

source:  Make Your Marketing Dollars Pay: Target Tweens.  Engage Hispanics:  MediaPost.  February 6, 2009

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.

International Privacy Day: Privacy Policy Also Means Protecting Consumers [Think Financial Products/Mortgages, Health Products, the Marketing of Obesity-linked Foods, etc]

My group the Center for Digital Democracy joins with our colleagues throughout the world to acknowledge International Privacy Day.  The day is to help mark what is a growing debate about the role that data collection on citizens and consumers plays in our lives.  Both governments and many corporations are harvesting a tremendous amount of information on us, to monitor our activities and influence our behavior.

But protecting our privacy is more than just data protection and the Big Brother/Sister-like surveillance system now available.  It’s also about linking the use of data collection to the vast interactive marketing apparatus which is designed to help direct our thinking about products, brands, and ideas (including political leaders).  Protecting privacy is just one part of the problem; the other half relates to ensuring protection for consumers.  Interactive marketing has created a range of unfair, deceptive and potentially harmful practices across a broad range of product categories.  These practices are fueled by the data collection, analysis and targeting system which has been put in place.  So here’s to those who care about privacy; to those who also care about the public welfare; and to the public whose future will be affected by the outcomes of these debates and policies.

Digital Marketing of Toys to Children Reflects Seamless Merging of Online & Online, inc. Play

Here’s a telling comment via a senior Disney executive:

“Disney says it sees online as a vital part of its strategy to turn its very well-known brand name into greater market share by making itself more relevant than ever to both children and parents…”That’s why [says Edward Catchpole, senior European VP for toys, Disney] all the sites we operate for our brands are not extensions, they’re seamless integrations, part of owning that toy, part of the play pattern. A young girl will run around pretending to be a fairy, then play with a toy and then go online and immerse themselves in a virtual world at one of our communities, like Pixie Hollow or Club Penguin. We also have a social network based around [Disney/Pixar movie] Cars in the US, which tends to be used more by boys,” Catchpole adds.”

source:  Vertical Focus: Toy retailing.  Sean Hargrave.  New Media Age [UK].  November 27, 2008 [sub required]

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Official Definition of Behavioral Targeting

As the debate on privacy, consumer protection, and online marketing is renewed, it may be useful to see how the interactive ad industry classifies its practices.  Here is the definition of behavioral targeting from the IAB’s own glossary of terms.  My bold:
“Behavioral Targeting-
A technique used by online publishers and advertisers to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns. Behavioral targeting uses information collected on an individual’s web browsing behavior such as the pages they have visited or the searches they have made to select which advertisements to be displayed to that individual. Practitioners believe this helps them deliver their online advertisements to the users who are most likely to be influenced by them.

Here are a few other terms used by the IAB that illustrate some of the the online ad industry’s data collection and targeting process:

Click-stream –
1) the electronic path a user takes while navigating from site to site, and from page to page within a site; 2) a comprehensive body of data describing the sequence of activity between a user’s browser and any other Internet resource, such as a Web site or third party ad server.
Heuristic –
a way to measure a user’s unique identity. This measure uses deduction or inference based on a rule or algorithm which is valid for that server. For example, the combination of IP address and user agent can be used to identify a user in some cases. If a server receives a new request from the same client within 30 minutes, it is inferred that a new request comes from the same user and the time since the last page request was spent viewing the last page. Also referred to as an inference.

Profiling –
the practice of tracking information about consumers’ interests by monitoring their movements online. This can be done without using any personal information, but simply by analyzing the content, URL’s, and other information about a user’s browsing path/click-stream.
Unique user –
unique individual or browser which has either accessed a site (see unique visitor) or which has been served unique content and/or ads such as e-mail, newsletters, interstitials and pop-under ads. Unique users can be identified by user registration or cookies. Reported unique users should filter out bots. See for ad campaign measurement guidelines
Web beacon
a line of code which is used by a Web site or third party ad server to track a user’s activity, such as a registration or conversion. A Web beacon is often invisible because it is only 1 x 1 pixel in size with no color. Also known as Web bug, 1 by 1 GIF, invisible GIF and tracker GIF.

Get Set, Ready, Regulate!: Online Marketing and Data Collection in 2009-2010 [see how everyone “owns” your data except you!]

New Year, new Administration and Congress.  Plus a growing global concern from policymakers, advocates and citizens about data collection online.  Even the relatively feckless Federal Trade Commission will do more on the issue this year. Here’s a toast to hope for a honest discussion about the data collection and targeting system which embodies the online marketing apparatus.  Look at this excerpt from a story on behavioral targeting and online publishing from this week’s Advertising Age.  Note that everyone believes that can collect and use the data collected from observing an individuals’ behavior–and don’t even have to get permission from the actual person.  Such online marketing practices, of course, raise important civil liberties issues, as far as I’m concerned.

Here’s the excerpt:  “…Who created the customer and who owns the data generated by a visit or a sale? “Data is key; everybody wants to own it, everybody wants to use it. It’s not just ad networks — its portals, publishers and holding companies,” said Mike Cassidy, CEO of Undertone Networks. “The question to be answered is who owns the data, if anybody.” In the offline world, publishers market their own subscriber lists. But online that data is harvested by a host of third parties such as Google’s DoubleClick, Microsoft’s Atlas and vast ad networks such as Platform A’s “People are stealing from the media companies who have lost control of their data,” said Operative CEO Mike Leo….Here’s how it works: A publisher decides to allow an ad network to sell some of its inventory. That network places a cookie on the publisher’s site. Now, when a user leaves that site, and goes somewhere else, the network can track that user.”

source:  “As Tracking Proliferates, Web Publishers are Left Out: Behavioral Targeting Punishes Producers of Original Content.”  Michael Learmouth.  Advertising Age.  January 5, 2009 [sub may be required].

Behavorial Tracking a User of Search and Display: Hey, FTC. Better Tighten Up Those Proposed self-regulatory rules [Annals of Behavioral Targeting]

Online ad companies, such as Microsoft, have been developing ways of tracking a users journey online (“engagement mapping” of the digital marketing “conversion funnel”) so the share of ad dollars can be more properly apportioned (meaning, it’s not only the ad companies providing the “last-click” that receives all the credit).  We have long been troubled by the stealth tracking and commercial surveillance system being put in place.  Rich media online ad company Eyeblaster has developed a similar service.  Here’s an excerpt from a trade article.  After you read it, think about the FTC during an Obama Administration, and what we should expect it to do under a new majority:

“Eyeblaster has introduced Channel Connect for Search, a service that helps marketers track consumers who click on their display ads but do not transact immediately.

The service places a cookie on a user’s computer that remains on his or her desktop for 30 days. Eyeblaster customers can then identify those individuals when they later convert through search.

“It bridges the gap between display and search advertising,” said Thomas MciIheran, senior media manager with digital media agency Sicola Martin, which is based in Austin, TX. “It’s such valuable information, because there are clients who say display advertising isn’t working, and they think they should stop. This could be eye opening for them, because it shows that display is leading to search, and how much.” …The new service is “able to pinpoint crucial campaign data and draw important insights about the interaction of our search and display ads,” said Harry Case, director of media analytics and technology at Mindshare, in a written statement. “In the end, it provided us with a more comprehensive overview of user behavior.”