Evidence on behavioural targeting

In thinking about the shift towards online promotional activity, one of the perceived benefits to marketers is the potential for using information about a user’s web browsing behaviour to target adverts based on likely interests. However, such benefits can raise potential privacy concerns amongst users. So-called behavioural targeting can be shallow (using cookies) or based on what is called ‘deep packet inspection’. In Chapter 7, you will find a short case on Phorm – a BT firm that has attracted a lot of criticism. The Office of Fair Trading has just published a very useful market study of behavioural targeting in the UK. It includes estimates of market size, an assessment of consumer attitudes, perceived benefits and disbenefits, and potential regulatory remedies.

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The end of the world as we’ve known it … but not just yet

January saw the publication of consultancy firm Deloitte’s annual TMT (Technology, Media and Telecommunications) predictions. Three publications are available for free download in each of the three component areas of the firm’s practice. Whilst generally long on assertion and anecdote and somewhat shorter on detailed evidence, the reports are aimed at ‘starting or stoking a particular conversation’ rather than stopping it, according to lead TMT Partner Jolyon Barker. Of particular interest for me in the Media Predictions report is the more measured approach Deloitte is taking to some of the hyperbolic debates over trends and business models in this area: for example, online vs TV advertising; prospects for e-readers; buzz over 3D TV; the reality of TV/web integration. This is refreshing. It’s not a wholesale ‘out with the old and in with the new’ conclusion, but a recognition that the future of media business models and promotional mechanisms is much more complex and nuanced. The notion that ‘linear’s got legs’ (linear watching of TV according to schedules, rather than wholesale on demand through such vehicles as the BBC iPlayer) is an especially interesting discussion. And the fightback of publishing through the introduction of pay walls and micropayments (although the jury is still out on their acceptability) is also an analysis worth reading.