Due to the involvement of ad networks, a Krux study reveals that behavioral tracking has increased tremendously since November 2010. This is the summary of a behavioral targeting article by Elinor Mills. Here’s the link to the original behavioral targeting article: Behavioral data tracking rising dramatically (Q & A).
Behavioral tracking has increased by 400 percent, according to Krux, a firm that manages customer data of websites. In December, 56 data collection instances are triggered per website visit on average, which is 10 more instances than November 2010. The data is obtained through ComScore, analyzing the fifty most-visited websites.
More websites are using targeting to give out highly personalized ads to visitors. They use tracking techniques, e.g. cookies, behind the scenes, to collect behavioral data from these consumers. Privacy advocates are concerned, but there’s no doubt that this practice will continue to rise and become even more extensive.
Advertisers can engage in targeted marketing by tracking users as they visit various websites online. Through real-time advertisement bidding, publishers can also benefit by providing avenues for these targeted ads to be seen by highly interested users. In fact, around the second week of June, Facebook confirmed that it is testing a new targeted advertising platform based on browsing history.
In an interview with CNET, Gordon McLeod, talks about why behavioral targeting is increasing rapidly and what the implications are for online consumers. The following are some of the topics discussed in the interview.
Data Collected in Behavioral Tracking
Cookie data is being collected from a browser of a certain user. These data allows third parties, publishers, to gather insight about the sites you visit, your interests, preferred content, education level, age, income, marketing data, etc. These data are then collected to build up your profile and group you to a certain audience segment. These segments are sent to ad exchanges and networks where they are being sold in real-time.
In the past, advertising used to be about buying page content, section sponsoring, among others. But now, advertisers are purchasing audience, and at relatively low prices at that, and the number of firms engaging in user data collection is increasing rapidly.
Concern of Privacy Advocates
The practice of user data collection has been present for quite some time now. It is being used by phone and credit card companies, for example. But some governments, especially those in Europe, are highly engaged in discussions regarding privacy and behavioral tracking.
The problem here though, is absence of transparency. For one, there are many collectors gathering user data that the site owner and user are not conscious about. Many find this disturbing. Usually, it’s hard for website owners to enforce their privacy policies.
On the other hand, 99 percent of targeting is anonymous. But it’s a matter of preference. Some people prefer highly targeted ads because they get the information they want, while others like being anonymous and perhaps spontaneous about their choices.
Ad Aware and Do Not Track
These two technologies make people talk more about the privacy issues of behavioral targeting and tracking. They get to discuss matters such as deleting cookies, privacy policies, and others. Users get informed.
Informing users may save governments from enforcing regulations, by making online companies more transparent about tracking. Krux, in particular, contributes by informing websites about the collecting going on in your site. Many publishers have decided to implement self-regulation, monitoring their own pages, and Krux helps them accomplish those goals.
Amazon’s personalized recommendation scheme is often a great experience for consumers, but their feelings are different for news sites. Consumers should have greater awareness on the sites they have visited. They should also be aware of the environment that allows them to manage tracking data. Krux creates best practices and recommendations so that consumers and publishers can work in protected environments.