Behavioural Advertising

By April 21, 2009 Internet News No Comments

Behavioural advertising uses cookies to target ads at internet users based on previous pages they have viewed or personal details handed over when registering for something, somewhere, on the web.

This is one step beyond search marketings ‘behavioural’ advertising – which is similar because of the fact that ads/brands/products are promoted depending on the search term you have typed or the content on a page you are visiting.

This new behavioural advertising records and remembers your previous online behaviour.

The benefits of behavioural targetting for advertisers is obvious – targetting your ads at the most likely respondents increases your chances of a conversion. There are some advantages for consumers as well – perhaps it will increase your awareness of providers, thereby improving competition for products or services in which you are interested.

However, the negatives for consumers are also as obvious – internet privacy. Concern is being raised by privacy activists regarding the recording and ‘monitoring’ of internet users behaviour.

While it is easy enough to disable cookies, the worry is that most people are unaware of this – a benefit of which advertisers are probably fully aware. Perhaps as well as fighting the use of cookies by those sites which issue or use them, privacy activists should also be raising general awareness of cookie-use so that internet users can decide for themselves.

In the UK, a company called Phorm has caused a storm of controversy when it was discovered that they had conducted a trial which monitored the online behaviour of thousands of British Telecom users for behavioural targetting purposes.

The system Phorm invented, Webwise,  is basically an advertising system which categorises users so that advertisers can better target the ads they serve. The EU has accused the UK of inadequate protections for UK internet users following complaints regarding the use of Webwise, and has announced that they will commence legal action over it.

Amazon UK is the first large website owner in the UK to announce that it will bar the use of Webwise on its sites.

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