Targeting

Consumer Choice and Relevant Advertising

Posted by Omar Tawakol on November 18th, 2008 at 12:00 am

Online privacy experts have been advocating consumer privacy for as long as the birth of the Internet.  The discussion is often driven  by negative experiences such as the ubiquitous appearance of pop-ups ads,  the rise of spyware and more recently, the threat of deep packet inspection.

While the method of “opting out” from cookie based tracking is a reasonable privacy standard for consumers, I think as an industry, we should raise the bar.  Online privacy should be driven by consumer choice and participation and the ability to say more than just “no”. It should be an ongoing dialogue between the consumer and marketer on “what I want marketed to me”.

Wouldn’t it be far more effective and profitable for advertisers and publishers to provide targeted advertising based on behaviors where the consumers are able to provide feedback on the type of messages they care to receive?

Here are a few key points to making consumer choice advertising possible:

Anonymity – at the root of combating privacy concerns is the importance of data anonymity.  Consumer preferences should remain anonymous and not linked to personally identifiable information.

Transparency why are cookies threatening to the consumer?  More than likely, it is because the average consumer doesn’t understand what types of information is being collected about them.   How about giving them visibility into what is being collected and the ability to validate it?

Rewards – value to the consumer will come in many forms and their level of participation may be driven by any one of them:  relevant advertising, continued content subsidy, control over marketing experience or unique reward programs.  Imagine receiving coupons for items you need or even gaining points for shopping or travel, etc.  The concept of reward programs will truly bring the value of data back to the people who own it.

Consumer participation creates value all around the table: cookie data that are up to date and prime for targeting, and in return, consumers gain not only the power to influence their marketing destiny but also direct monetary rewards.   What are your thoughts?

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