Behavioral Targeting's New Consumer Perception

Josh GordonA recent article from iMedia's Rich Cherecwich highlights how the swirling rumors and seeming momentum behind the ruin of network behavioral targeting will not come to fruition. Why? Web browsers do not seem to mind. With all of the storm clouds created by various consumer care and privacy groups the crumbling of the potential of network behavioral targeting appeared eminent. While onsite targeting has never been in jeopardy of serious sanction or criticism, network BT became susceptible because of the way the data was collected and used. As it turns out, however, Web browsers seem content with a more relevant online experience.

Several key factors likely contributed to the growing ease among consumer privacy groups and folks who browse the Web. First, the organization of the Behavioral Targeting Standards Consortium, and its proactive approach to alleviating the concerns of consumer groups, likely assuaged much of the ill will left by the remnants of NebuAd. The willingness of research professionals, industry influencers, and technology providers to organize and communicate a seriousness about resolving any perceived issues was crucial.

Another likely factor is proactive nature of self-regulation by the industry. The Seven Best Practices for Behavioral Targeting (the Education Principle, the Transparency Principle, the Consumer Control Principle, the Data Security Principle, the Material Changes Principle, the Sensitive Data Principle, and the Accountability Principle) are solid. The proposal is thorough, covers many angles and previous points of consternation for consumer advocacy groups, and appeases the Federal Trade Commission.

Likely, the Education Principle is the key principle. The more effort put into education – and the wider the educational outreach (to include consumers and lawmakers and industry experts) – the better.

The general acceptance of behavioral targeting at the network level still is not here yet. Do not misconstrue the attempts and successes of industry insiders to redefine BT and lessen consumer advocates’ concerns as complete acceptance. But, there have been several steps in the right direction, and there is good reason for hope.

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  1. […] Groups Unite to Expand the Data Debate Last week I introduced a recent shift in consumer perception of behavioral targeting, as more consumers seem open to accepting relevant Web content - no […]

  2. […] No sooner did I report the changing consumer perception of behavioral targeting – a notable shift toward acceptance – than a new study emerged showing the exact opposite. One quick note before diving into the […]

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