“Interactive media really gets into this creepy Orwellian thing”

I found the following post on Joe Trippi’s blog and thought it’s something that needs to be addressed here as well:

As technology continues to advance and online marketers look to get the greatest amount of detail possible from online users, the ads that we all see as we surf the web have grown more and more targeted to our specific browsing tendencies and personal preferences. NYT has a great piece on how it all happens, and what it means for our lives online going forward.

From the NY Times:

For all the concern and uproar over online privacy, marketers and data companies have always known much more about consumers’ offline lives, like income, credit score, home ownership, even what car they drive and whether they have a hunting license. Recently, some of these companies have started connecting this mountain of information to consumers’ browsers.

The result is a sea change in the way consumers encounter the Web. Not only will people see customized advertising, they will see different versions of Web sites from other consumers and even receive different discount offers while shopping — all based on information from their offline history. Two women in adjoining offices could go to the same cosmetic site, but one might see a $300 Missoni perfume, the other the house-brand lipstick on sale for $2.

The technology that makes the connection is nothing new — it is a tiny piece of code called a cookie that is placed on a hard drive. But the information it holds is. And it is all done invisibly.

“Now, you’re traveling the Internet with a cookie that indicates you’re this type of consumer: age group X, income level, urban versus rural, presence of children in the household,” said Trey Barrett, a product leader at Acxiom, one of the companies offering this linking to marketers.

Advertisers and marketers say this specificity is useful, taking out the guesswork involved in online-only profiling, and showing products to the people most likely to be interested. Retailers including Gap and Victoria’s Secret are using this tactic.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

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