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Behavioural Advertising

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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.

Newspapers Get Told

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SiliconAlleyInsider today printed an article about Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s keynote speech at the Newspaper Association of America’s annual convention. As we all know, newspaper publishers have been whinging long and hard now about the fact that their traditional business model is becoming obsolete and that their content is being hijacked and reprinted around the web.

Well, at the convention, in front of all the newspaper big wigs and professionals, Eric Schmidt gave a simple message – that their business model is going to have to change, and that Google can help them with the way forward.

Now, I am all for the reinvention of business models. Newspapers traditional model is no longer working, but they can’t complain that technology is making them obsolete, they have to move with the times. I think the same thing about movie and music downloading – new technology and business models need to be created, because no matter what you do, the technology cannot be ‘undid’. It has been created, it is going to grow, there isn’t a way back. Learn how to move with it.

At a conference earlier this year I heard one of the managers of Kodak speak about the impact of technology on their business model. How for nearly 100 years they had only one product – film, and that that one product built them up into an international company. In the last 10 years or so, that one product has obviously been impacted by advances in technology, and so Kodak moved with that, and now film is only a very minor part of their business. They are still a multinational company with a healthy bottom line, but a lot of that new revenue is now coming from new technology and new products.

Search Engine Lands Danny Sullivan has also published a rebuttle regarding newspapers complaints about the stealing of their content. His rant turns the tables on particular established media – like the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph – and points out how they regularly steal content and images for their own use, all in the name of  ‘news’.

As a journalist himself, previously in traditional media and now for his own ‘blog’, Danny Sullivan knows the story from both sides. I hope that some of the newspapers actually read it.

Australian Government to Build the New Broadband Network

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This morning, Kevin Rudd announced that despite the tender process that has been going on for more than 6 months now, the national broadband network contract will not be going to any of the tendering companies, or any existing company at all. Instead, the Government will oversee the project in partnership with a private company, and the Government will be the majority owner, until completion in 8 years.

Rudd updated his Twitter account this morning, announcing this historic infrastructure decision, to which you can now see the backlash, here.

Optus and the other tendering companies must be furious today. Telstra is likely to be quietly optimistic.

Telstra was the only one of the big providers who submitted a ‘tender’ for the National Broadband Network without spending lots of time and tonnes of money on it – which got them disqualified initially, but in hindsight was a genius saving of time and money now that the tenders are obsolete. Also, Telstra will be allowed to participate in this new idea – an infuriating turnaround which has not taught Telstra a lesson at all.

There are many pro’s and con’s to this idea, and the Opposition hasn’t even had a chance to rebut yet, but my concerns are:

  • A non competitive cost to the consumer that needs to also build in the cost of Government bureaucracy
  • The same Government bureaucracy meaning it is unlikely it will be completed in the 8 year time frame
  • A concern about the proposed filter, and how this will be implemented in a Government owned broadband network
  • The long time frame, and did I mention Government Bureaucracy, which is unlikely to be able to take into consideration upgrades and advances in technology – of which we are already quite far behind
  • The fact that Telstra is likely to get involved, and that they therefore did not get the comeuppance that the rest of Australia thought was due
  • Did they just use the long, expensive tender process to grab the ideas of Optus, Sing-Tel, etc. ? And did Telstra know this?
  • Telstra Mach 3

Government Web Filter Set Back

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Another week,  another setback for Senator Conroy’s ill fated Web Filter plan.

This weeks news tells of an independent senator joining the Greens and Opposition in opposing the scheme, and committing himself to blocking the legislation required ( independent legal advice stated this week that legislation will be required for the proposed filter to go ahead).

The independent Senator has been swayed by the continually emerging evidence which suggests that the proposed filter will not achieve its aims, will be easily by passed, would cause slower internet and block more sites than might be intended (although, this is an inherent problem with filter schemes – whats in and whats out?)

When there is so much expert opposition to the plan, and obviously bigger fish to fry, I cannot believe that the trials are still going ahead. No matter what the results, there is too much against the plan already for there to be a convincing argument made, and now there will be gridlock in the senate for passing the required legislation anyway.

Our national budget is going into the red by obscene amounts, and the Government is obviously going to have to propose massive costs savings in Mays Federal Budget. This project should be first on the list for the chop, if it doesn’t get chopped right now.

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