David Kirkpatrick

January 27, 2010

Online privacy and advertising

The two have quite the tempestuous relationship. In many ways hyper-targeted advertising can help consumers and certainly advertisers prefer to spend money on people who might actually use the pitched product/service/etc. At the same time there are legitimate concerns about online privacy rights, and how data about your online habits can be used and misused.

This article outlines a reasonable middle ground for the moment, and offers a visual clue to web users on when they’ve been selectively targeted for certain ads.

From the link:

Trying to ward off regulators, the advertising industry has agreed on a standard icon — a little “i” — that it will add to most online ads that use demographics and behavioral data to tell consumers what is happening.

Jules Polonetsky, the co-chairman and director of the Future of Privacy Forum, an advocacy group that helped create the symbol, compared it to the triangle made up of three arrows that tells consumers that something is recyclable.

The idea was “to come up with a recycling symbol — people will look at it, and once they know what it is, they’ll get it, and always get it,” Mr. Polonetsky said.

Most major companies running online ads are expected to begin adding the icon to their ads by midsummer, along with phrases like “Why did I get this ad?”

And, the symbol:

The icon will be used in online ads that go to users based on demographics