Digital Junk Food Marketing Watch: Cox’s Adify Bringing Behavioral Targeting to Food Marketing to Youth and Others?

Adify–owned by Cox Enterprises–provides online marketing and network tools–including behavioral targeting. It offers advertisers the ability to track you site to site (retargeting), can “deploy tracking beacons,” and uses “sophisticated logic to define targetable behavioral segments.”  Adify’s “platform powers more than 160 of the world’s best vertical ad networks, and connects premium brand advertisers to the deeply engaged audiences of thousands of quality mid- and long-tail sites.” Its network provides services for a number of sites, including those targeting African Americans, Gays and Lesbians and others.  It now is moving into what is called the “food vertical” business–which means helping quick service restaurants and other food and beverage companies target youth and others.

The FTC is now looking into the digital marketing of food and beverages to youth–prodded by my CDD.  No food marketer should use behavioral targeting or any related data collection and profiling technique when targeting children and adolescents.  Questions must also be raised about vulnerable populations as well.   Cox should ensure that its Adify doesn’t multiple the country’s obesity epidemic.

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.