Wal-Mart Tracks & Targets its Customers Online via Behavioral Targeting

Wal-Mart has signed a behavioral targeting deal with Yahoo!  DM News reports that “when a shop­per puts a digital camera into a shopping cart and then takes it out, Walmart.com will be able to deliver an ad for a digital camera the next time that shopper returns to the site. If a shopper performs a search for digital cameras, an ad for digital cameras will be pre­sented with the results.”

We haven’t examined Wal-Mart’s privacy policy yet. But they should be held to a standard where its customers are treated fairly, not like retail guinea pigs. For example, will Wal-Mart tell its users what Yahoo! says it can do with its behavioral targeting product:

“With more behavioral data, real-time updates and audience modeling, Yahoo! Behavioral Targeting can deliver larger audiences and better performance than before.

With Engagers, advertisers can target consumers specifically interested in a product category, moving them down the sales funnel and eliminating waste. With Shoppers, advertisers can target consumers based on likelihood to click, improving response and conversion rates.
Yahoo! offers:
• The most experience with behavioral data and targeting, and the most sophisticated targeting technology online
• The largest online user base & the most detail about users (what they do, not who they are)
• The largest volume of behaviorally targeted ad impressions”

Will Wal-Mart tell its customers that can be classified under such Yahoo! behavioral categories entitled:

Female Fashion Freaks
Consciously Cruising (Alt. Fuel Vehicles)
Seeking out the Silver Screen
Female Electronic Gurus
Home Hopping
Hunting for Trucks
Female Gamers (18-24)
Planning for the Golden Years
Nutrition Nuts
Aspiring African Adventurers”

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.

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