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.

Google this…

Google has been developing its Privacy Center for nearly a year now. Launched in November 2009, the latest and arguably most useful feature of the service is Google Dashboard. The dashboard displays for many (but not yet all) Google services all the privacy settings and publically shared data for an individual user. Says Google: “The Privacy Center was created to provide you with easy-to-understand information about our products and policies to help you make more informed choices about which products you use, how to use them, and what information you provide to us.”. If you have a Google account, take a look at what Google knows about you – ranging from web history to Gmail to Picasa photo library, from YouTube subscriptions to Orkut social networks. That’s a lot of information about you held out there in the cloud! Now that Google has drawn attention to all this, does it change your attitude to information privacy?