There’s a “Great Digital Game” going on, where companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and leading ad agencies compete to expand the clout of online marketing around the globe.Â As I told EU and other privacy regulators last Friday, the Obama Administration is being pressed by US online marketers to forge trade deals that will allow the leading companies to conduct business in theÂ Asia-Pacific and EU region without worrying about serious privacy and consumer protection rules.Â I do think it’s ironic–and really misleading–to point to online marketing as a U.S. economic success story that requires special treatment.Â The revenues generated by Google, Facebook and the others are principally from advertising.Â Whether they are truly models of innovation that will bring the kind of sustainable long-term job and economic growth we need is questionable.
At the core of the “Great Digital Game”–where U.S. companies strive to dominate the global interactive ad marketplace–is data collection for user targeting.Â Microsoft, which has a principal online ad research facility in Beijing, was recently seeking a Senior Data Mining Analyst.Â Read this excerpt from the job description and think about privacy, civil liberties in China and other autocratic regimes, consumer protection and the ethical role of U.S. online ad companies:Â “Microsoft Ad Platform China is building world-class engineering teams in Beijing, focusing on online Ads related systems and services such as behavior targeting and advertiser analytics. The team partner closely with the Redmond Ad Platform team, enabling the discovery and inference of user profiles, intent and interaction while respecting privacy and trust, with the ultimate goal of maximizing benefits for users, advertisers and publishers…Core Job Responsibilities: Conduct and manage applied research and modeling work in the areas of user segmentation, profiling, and targeting. Research and experiment on data mining algorithms for user segmentation and dynamic segment expansion. Utilize data mining technologies and use various data sources, some of which may include MSN/Windows Live web usage, search query, demographic, subscription, and 3rd party data, to gain insight into Internet user behavior and intent that will set the foundation for Microsoft targeting offerings and data services. Provide complete solutions to business problems using data mining techniques, statistics and data analysis. Serve as subject matter expert and drive thought leadership in the areas of user profiling, ad targeting, and personalization for Microsoft online services.”