Digital Dirt

April 21, 2009

Smart Phones for Smart Advertisers

Filed under: Digital Footprint Trends — Tags: , , , — Danny Petre @ 10:24 pm

iphone-map-googleA few weeks ago I wrote about how Google was using “behavioral targeting” to tailor advertising to specific indivials that would, presumably, be more receptive.  And I thought it was a great idea (especially since it didn’t violate privacy by targeting advertising linked to your name, demographic information, etc).

In another article publicished in the overly Pulizer-Prized New York Times, they discuss how cell companies are leveraging similar tactics for mobile advertising.  Something I am also hugly in favor of. 

Basically moble providers know a lot about their users.  What apps they download, mobile sites they visit, etc.  Plus, GPS allows them to potentially track your location.  Urban Spoon and Yelp for example use your specific GPS location to reccomend resturants and so on.  Quite convienent.  So if they know our location, our intertests, our sex, our age, our everything, won’t we only get the “stuff” that is interesting to us?  I doubt it will ever be that precise, but it’s a nice dream.  We’re still going to get SPAM and other crap that advertisers “think” we want.

But some ethical issue arise from all of this according to the NYTs article: 

“It’s potentially a portable, personal spy,” said Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, who will appear before Federal Trade Commission staff members this month to brief them on privacy and mobile marketing. He is particularly concerned about data breaches, advertisers’ access to sensitive health or financial information, and a lack of transparency about how advertisers are collecting data. “Users are going to be inclined to say, sure, what’s harmful about a click, not realizing that they’ve consented to give up their information.”


Thoughts?  I don’t think they will ever get to the point where they are going to use, or even need, our “sensitive” medical information to sell products, but who knows?


March 18, 2009

The Google Mistrial—A New Check and Balance

Filed under: Digital Footprint Trends — Tags: , , , , , — Danny Petre @ 8:21 am


Obama’s wish is coming true: transparency in government is here. That is, transparency in the courtroom. As reported on the front page of the New York Times today jurors are using web technology on cell phones (and some using the internet at home) to do outside research on the trial they are sitting in on. Often, the information that jurors find would have been dismissed by the judge for some reason or another.

It might be called a Google mistrial. The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges. –

So the question is: in the era of consumerism, should digital information (digital footprints if you will) be as a source of information for jurors to form their opinion? Who’s to say, besides the judge of course, that information found on Wikipedia isn’t a ligament way to inform arguments on all sides of a trial? We have allowed video cameras in the courtroom many times before (think OJ Simpson saga) why can’t jurors post Twitter updates to inform their “followers” of the courtroom happenings?

Granted I’m not a legal expert but it seems to me that today we are continuing to see a shift from government and business control of information (e.g. speaking to the public) to an age of consumerism (e.g. the publics willing consumption of information). Government needs to begin to understand he power that various technologies give the public. President Obama did with his campaign and continues to do so in office. (That was the first time I wrote “President Obama” and it felt really good!) Brands that realize that they are not “brand managers” but consumers are will be better off in the future.

Our illustrious professor, Jim Eiche, reminds us that brands are “a reputation.” Today that reputation lives online as we read consumer reviews, search for information, and seek the opinions of our friends. To me, this is the true democratization of information and it is essential to our lives… even if we are jurors.

March 11, 2009

Google, How We Love Ye

Google is doing it.  They are really doing it!  They are using consumer information to target advertising.  Behavioral targeting (kinda) is here!  Finally.  Yippee. 

The good news is that they are not screwing it up like when they bought DoubleClick and had the privacy monkeys on their back.   As reported in today’s New York Times Google will be the first big company to behaviorally target consumers based  online usage information.  The interesting part of Google’s dip into this pond is that they are offing users the ability to view the information that is in their profile.  Users also have the opportunity to opt-out (if they can figure out how). 

Google will use a cookie, a small piece of text that resides inside a Web browser, to track users as they visit one of the hundreds of thousands of sites that show ads through its AdSense program. Google will assign those users to categories based on the content of the pages they visit. For example, a user may be pegged as a potential car buyer, sports enthusiast or expectant mother.  (NYTs)

So, Google isn’t targeting “Danny the 27 year old, Ivy League grad student, that works on Madison Avenue, lives on the UWS, loves pizza, classic American literature, and skiing.”   They see Danny as “a user that went to, so he likes sports and skiing;, so he lives in NYC; works in communications (maybe) because he went to; and is an animal lover because because he went to  (Check that site out, it’s da sh*t.)

They are just categorizing users, not necessarily targeting them.  Or are they targeting categories of users by behavior? So it’s “behavioral categorizing.”  Or categorical targeting?  I’m not sure really…

But I am sure this is a good thing for consumers.  Get this: I’m watching Jeopardy (which I do every night) and an ad for some drug about fibromialsia comes on screen.  That sucks.  I don’t care about that.  I don’t even know what that is.  The ad I would want to see pop up is an ad from Delta telling me that I can get to Lake Tahoe for $199!  That’s what I want!

Think of a world where the advertising we encounter online (and someday elsewhere) is actually relevant to me.  Maybe I will want to view it instead of hitting fast-forward on my DVR.  Maybe the 30 second TV commercial wouldn’t be so bad.  We would all be like my non-jaded 4 year old niece that watches every commercial on Nickelodeon because they are actually relevant to her.

Our digital footprint might acutally save advertising by making advertising relevant… right?

March 10, 2009


The logical followup to my post yesterday has to do with “sexting.”  This is when someone texts a nude photo of themself to others.  Funny right?

It is one of the dumbest uses of digital technology that I can thing of, and it can have tragic non-digital concequences.

For eample: a teen girl “sexted” a nude photo of herself to her boyfriend.  They broke up.  And he spead the photo around school.  The girl then was harrassed by schoolmates and ended up hanging herself in her bedroom closet.  This sad story highlights the importance of being choicefull with your digital activity.

There are a few people at fault here: the girl who took and sent the photo, the boyfriend who texted it around, the classmates that harrassed the girl, and of course the school officals, police, and parents that did little to identify the potential harm it all caused.

February 23, 2009

Gen Y Doesn’t Know? Or They Don’t Care?

Filed under: Digital Footprint Trends — Tags: , , , , , — Danny Petre @ 9:32 pm

I have been trying to figure out if Gen Y doesn’t know about the potential impact of their digital footprint, or if they simply don’t care.  I’m on the cusp of Gen Y-Gen X generations and I think that my online behavior is a bit more Gen X, to an extent. That is to say, more conservative.  

I have a feeling Gen Y’s behavior is a combination of both insubordination and idiocy.  When looking at online media habits it’s clear that Gen Y (see chart right), onlinethe group of youngsters currently about 11-30 years old, it is clear that they are not simple passive observers of online content, but rather content generators.  They post photos, create music video mash-ups, maintain blogs and comment on others’ blogs, review products, make Facebook wall postings, and even post photos and videos of friends without consent. God know what else…  

The younger part of this generation, in my opinion, revel in the opportunity to make a lasting “impact” online.  The online social networks like Facebook and MySpace have become digital school yards where kids are continually vying and posturing for their place in the social hierarchy.   

Think about the 2008 presidential election for a moment.  20 years go, or even 10 (I assume), most people didn’t publicly declare their political goings-on.  Yet today we have an entire generation that has digitally pledged their political allegiance to President Obama (or McCain or Ron Paul for that matter who’s campaign has a bit to say about digital footprints last year) via Facebook “fan pages” and the Obamicon website application where folks can turn an average photo into a symbolic artistry of Shepard Fairey. (Shepard, ironically was recently arrested on charges of vandalism after a little “street art” a.k.a. graffiti. Another example of leaving mark on history.) Today rallies happen online.  We are not marching on Washington we are marching on the Web. And the Web tends to be a much permanent march.    

Daily Mail heralded “the ‘arrival of Generation Y – the graduate divas who want it all’ to the working world in 2008.”  Though, I myself, am an entitled little sh*t, so I understand the appeal of Dirtying up the Web a bit. It sure might bit me in the ass years to come, but hey, a little irreverence never hurt.    (I also happen to understand hypocrisy.)

Keep an eye on this space as I try to dig up more information on the generational differences as it relates to digital footprints.

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