Alternatives to Behavioral Targeting are lost in the noise

Recent reports show that consumers by and large remain uncomfortable with having their every move and action online tracked by advertisers for the purpose of serving them advertising.

Consumers do understand advertising sponsors the multitude of free content and services they enjoy, and that more relevant advertising can even be useful. Nonetheless, many consumers, especially those older than the 18-34 cohort, feel their privacy is being invaded.

Some people like Sean Cummings, say that online privacy is a myth and that young people today don’t have an expectation, even desire, for privacy, at least judged by the information they gladly volunteer on social networks.

However, I feel there is a significant difference between being profiled based on information you choose to disclose about yourself, whether accurate or not, and being profiled based online behavioral data that you didn’t explicitly or knowingly share.

The current debate around behavioral targeting and online privacy is a healthy one, and as a consumer and a marketing executive I find myself on the fence arguing for both sides.

However, it’s easy to get blind sighted by the polemics of this debate, forcing us to believe that we’re at a fork in the road where our choices are either behavioral targeting or ‘traditional’ (contextual, demographic, intent, etc.).

There are other alternatives that serve both advertiser and the consumer interests and goals. That’s what I think is lost in the noise of this debate.

- vidar

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