… is a frequently used technique in modern marketing with which we are confronted in nowadays. Thanks to sophisticated technologies and the most powerful means of mass communication of the 21st century: The internet, marketers can make use of a broad array of strategies in order to influence their target group’s consumption behavior.
As the analysis of personal data is essential for successful personalized advertisement, “tailored marketing” has become one of the most highly charged debates of the past years.
Clueslessness and Naivety
Before I began to research on the topic I was wondering what might be so bad about it. I always enjoyed looking at beautiful summer dresses, shoes, open-air events in Berlin and interesting universities abroad. I thought that you are always bombarded with advertisement anyway.
So why should I be bothered by support stockings, orthopaedic shoes and the bestseller-thrillers (although I would not even dare taking a look at the title, because I am so afraid of monsters, murderers and other moments of shock), if I could also receive advertisements I am interested in and that might actually help me?
Influential people in the advertising industry, like Michael Galgon, Microsoft’s chief advertising strategist, praise the advantages of this strategy and uphold that privacy fears are misplaced.
Although I concede that personalized advertisements provide some conveniences to the user, I still insist that there must be a catch.
Why is personalized advertisement such a precarious, feared topic if it is represented to be so innocent? Is it a really a simple barter deal – interesting ads for a small amount of data we give away?
My feelings on the issue are mixed. I would love to ignore concerns and believe that this is not a big deal. Unfortunately it is not as easy as that.
… about that barter deal is that it is invisible for the user. We do not know how much of our personal data is being collected to target ads better as Louise Story, a reporter from The New York Times, correctly analyzed. This is the issue about which other privacy advocates are seriously concerned, too. They criticize marketers for tracking people and collecting scary amounts of data: scary because of the mass and its dimension.
Although I see that big web companies like AOL, Google and Yahoo approached the concerned party by promising to increase the transparency for the user and introducing consumer-protection policies, I do not have great trust in the invisible world of the internet.
I am of two minds about personalized advertisement. On the one hand, I agree with the proponents of this strategy and admit that it makes surfing much more interesting. However, on the other hand I feel seriously uneasy about that topic.
This feeling of uncertainty and disguise is bothering me and probably also you after reading this post. I am strongly convinced that analyzing the specific methods which are used (e.g. content-based, collaborative filtering, search-algorithms and data-mining) to collect data, will bring us one step closer towards absolute clarity. Therefore, I hope to have aroused your interest with this introduction to personalized advertisement, and strongly recommend my next post on: The dirty techniques of personalized online marketing.