The folks at the Federal Trade Commission better toughen up its proposed privacy principles. And Congress and the new Obama Administration, of course, will need to step in. That’s because the online marketing behavioral targeting industry is rushing to push the data collection from unprotected consumer digital envelope. Take, for example, Datran Media. In an interview, a representative explains “Datran’s unique advantage is in the fact that we have figured out a way to aggregate more audience data than anyone else…We derive our behavioral and lifestyle data from real online and offline requests for information or transactions, and obtain our household-level demographics and interests from the most informative and accurate direct marketing databases available. We feel that the combination is unprecedented and unbeatable in the marketplace.”
On Datran’s website it explains to potential clients that its Aperture product “is the first and only advertising solution to leverage the power of offline demographic data – at the household level – with online display advertising to help identify, reach and define your ideal customers – no matter where they are on the Web.” Describing a “smarter way” to reach consumers, the company explains that:
- Aperture is the only advertising solution that uses household demographic information to precisely target banner ads online, and report on the ads’ audience AND responders.
- Aperture defines your customers by WHO they are and WHAT they do.
- Retargeting capabilities bring customers back to your site with an added level of insight into who they are.
- Leveraging 100 million + demographic profiles combined with proprietary transaction-based behavioral intelligence, Aperture is capable of delivering greater consumer insights than ever before.
Aperture provides deep insights into the effectiveness and reach of your campaigns – by the view and click – so you can make the best business, media mix and creative decisions for your brand.”
The company’s targeting capabilities are also explained:
“Using Datran Media’s proprietary 100 million+ household level profiles, Aperture can layer any of following criteria to define your ideal customer and target your ads directly to them anywhere they go on the web.
- Household Size
- Number of Adults
- Number of Children Present
- Length of Residence
- Marital Status
The company can also “layer” in such targeting parameters as one’s neighborhood [“Number of Adults, Median Number of Children Present, Median Annual Income,” etc.] as well as consumer “behavior” [“auto, insurance, personal finance, dating and romance,” etc.].
As we said to the FTC and the industry, just because technology permits you to collect data and target individuals, doesn’t mean one should do it without the complete prior informed consent of users. Industry leaders need to own up to what they are doing, and support the kind of privacy protections a digital democracy requires.