Online Advertising Technology

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Internet Marketing and Privacy

For as long as there have been consumers, marketers have gathered information about consumers in order to better target a marketing pitch.  With the advent of Internet advertising in the 1990s, marketers gained another avenue to track consumer behavior to send targeted marketing offers.   This guide provides an overview of the best Web resources for learning about off-line and online consumer targeting practices. It educates you about the data that marketing companies may be gathering about you, and offers advice on how you may be able to control the data that is gathered about you.

Offline Consumer Targeting

For how long have offline marketers have been collecting data on consumers ?  The Consumer ... read more »

Online Advertising Technology

The world of online privacy can often seem overwhelming. Privacy policies written in “legalese,” along with complicated, ever-evolving Web technologies, make it difficult for the average consumer to understand how online advertising operates.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • Targeted online advertising is mainly conducted through “cookie” technology. Upon visiting any mainstream Web site, a small text file called a “cookie” is deposited on your computer. When you come back to this site at another time, the site recognizes your cookie, and can customize the page to fit your browsing habits.
  • Cookies are how sites such as Amazon.com “remember” your account name whenever you visit. Web publishers also often allow “third-party” advertisers to place cookies on your computer that collect information such as your IP address.
  • Cookies allow advertisers to target you based on the characteristics and habits of other Internet users. This targeting can be based on the Web sites you visit or links you click (behavioral targeting), the type of content on the Web site you are visiting (contextual targeting) or what you have typed into a search engine (keyword targeting).

  • While consumers have very little control over most offline consumer tracking activities, in many instances, a consumer can "opt out" of online tracking and ad targeting.  Many privacy advocates argue for an "opt-in" standard, but Internet users are notorious for passively accepting "default" settings, and any endeavor that requires an affirmative response is unlikely to succeed.
  • Targeted advertisements generate more revenue than untargeted advertisements.   Because the vast majority of Web content is advertising-supported, Web site owners argue that targeted advertising increases the resources that can be devoted to creating Web site content.
  • While many companies state that they do not share the data they collect with third parties, the fact is that, with very few exceptions, any data collected about you anywhere, offline or online, has to be handed over to law enforcement authorities or even to an adverse party in a lawsuit, if a valid subpoena is presented to the data owner.  Further, the security of any data is only as good as the humans responsible for keeping it secure.

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