Personalized Advertisement and Content – An Introductory Post

Personalized Advertisement

… 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?

“Don’t worry”?

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.

The problem

… 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.



  1. I am definitely interested i your blog, i will probably read it every week, and i do agree with you: On one hand i understand the strategy but on the other hand i feel very uneasy about this topic. Sometimes i think that i would rather not know how much they know about me.

  2. Hi Anita,
    Very interesting topic that you chose. Indeed the fact that we don’t know exactly what is captured in the data basis of big companies makes the situation pretty insecure. I am looking forward to more input from your side concerning this topic. If I can give you a small advice I would tell you to use your sources as a hyperlink in your text. That gives your audience the possibility to revise the sources right away.

  3. mieki9 · · Reply

    Wooww!It’s the first blog I read that really kept my attention until the end even if it is not that short – well done 😉 Your structure is – at least to me – perfect.Starting off by the explanation of the subject, then move on to possible problems, report on them and conclude with a personal comment is the best way to keep your reader interested. The subheads and quotations contribute as well and make it easily readable and well-designed. Already looking forward to next week’s post.

  4. Great structure, really capturing writing style and the topic has risen my interest!
    The idea of talking about your personal experiences and also taking in some quotes is what I loved most. As I am always a fan of visuals, this was missing a little for me but I mean it’s an introduction, so no problem. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: