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?

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