{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Personalization vs. privacy. Behavioral targeting vs. big brother. When does it get creepy?

It's rare that I catch myself being a full-fledged consumer. I'm not talking about the guy who has not spent the last 25 years in sales and marketing - the guy who has not spent studying and writing books and lecturing about online marketing since 1993 - the guy who does not climb all over every random video to bask in the glory of the Old Spice Guy. But it happened again today.

The Barrett Strong version is a classic, but I'm more enamored of the Beatle rendition of "Money (That's What I Want)." It's just the way I am. And because I am that way, Pandora told the makers of the yet-to-be-released all electric Leaf that I might like to see an ad for the car I've been waiting for.

I had heard about the Leaf. I had seen pictures of the Leaf. I had been to the Toyota website more than a few times waiting for the full story to be revealed. I wanted to know when this thing is going to go on the market. I already own a Prius and am desperate to dump the SUV taking up all the rest of the space in the garage.

So here I am, enjoying some soothing melodies and a few rockin' pneumonia tunes on Pandora on my iPhone. When I went to give "Money (That's What I Want)" a thumbs-up, I see an ad at the bottom of the screen that says "Meet the future" with a picture of a Leaf! I've been waiting to meet this car and here it is, in the palm of my hand!

I clicked on it and consumed everything there was about this car that fits my wallet, my world view, and my garage. I read the specs. I played the videos. I entered to win one! I even entered my name and email address to reserve one. I am serious about wanting to test drive one of these cars.

Then I went over to the Toyota website to try and find when this puppy is going to be available. It was then, after being nonplussed that there was NOTHING on the site at all about this car, that I noticed something that floored me. It's not made by Toyota. It's a Nissan product.

I knew the model name, but not the brand.

I am hot to trot for this product and totally misinformed about where to look for it. Rack up a major #fail for the media planners and buyers, magazine ad people and direct mail types and a major win for the mobile marketing team.

So how did they find me?

Pandora uses a patented algorithm to assess the songs I like and find others that fit into the same "DNA" range. Tempo, style, lyrics, era, you name it. And based on that, they can offer me up to Nissan on a silver platter. The more people like me who consume the Nissan Leaf app from Pandora, the better Pandora can target ads and the higher the ROI on their ad spend.

Some of my (non-internet-marketing) friends shudder when I tell them this story. "Creepy," they say. "Invasion of privacy!" they holler. "No, that's not for me," they insist. But they'll fall for it too as long as they don't have to watch how this sausage is being made. As soon as they see an ad for something that interests them, they will click.

This is not about being tracked and harassed. This is about being served. I gladly tell Amazon that I am a voracious John Grisham reader and am pleased when they recommend something else. But when my taste in music brings me together with a product I've been anxiously waiting for all I can say, "That's what I want."

Jim Sterne

Published 21 July, 2010 by Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne is a respected author and speaker. He is also the producer of the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit. You can follow Jim on Twitter here.

7 more posts from this author

Comments (11)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Jon Butler

I really think you're looking into this too much. Apple's iAd platform doesn't have a lot of populated ads yet, and the Nissan Leaf iAd has been featured many many times. I really think it's just a coincidence that something like this pops up.

Also, for people like myself, who listen to all genres, how in the world would this generate a potential ad?

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Juli

Jim:

Love your comments... just a note however, I would bet your friends "shudder" not "shutter" to think this could be creepy.

just a helpful proofreader ;)

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Daniel Waisberg

Please add me to the list that want to be Behaviorally Targeted too. I think targeting is a solution to much of the unoptimized experiences we see in so many portals... If we would see better advertisement, maybe it would be more effective, and the advertisers would be able to pay more, which means that the website owners would need to add less ads to the page. EVERYONE WINS!

Emily Riley, from Forrester Research, shows presents an idea that we should allow customers to opt out from tracking, but not forbid or limit tracking. See her full video, which is very insightful: Behaviorally Targeting Gen Y 

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Dennis

View http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/8420996 its a video at OMMA on behavioral targeting. Zappos said, its like a good waiter that refills your water and picks up your napkin when it drops. You did not asked for it, but its a service that makes you feel good in that restaurant.

over 6 years ago

Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne, Producer at eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit

Jon - I think my point was that I don't want it to be coincidence. I want them to target me based on things I'm not even aware of, so long as if brings me more relevant ads. Next - I'm pretty sure this was a Pandora ad rather than an iAd. Finally, you have eclectic tastes in music and over time, Pandora will determine that people like you click on ads like this more than ads like that. Behavioral targeting.

Juli - I stutter at my malapropism and am nun-plussed that the good people at Econsultancy didn't cache that mystic and wright it!

Daniel - Opt out is always a choice, but I also promote the idea that marketers should be always trying to get people to opt in. "Become a member and you'll get the following benefits!" 

Dennis - excellent point! I am happy that Amazon gives me recommendations and that FTD will remind me about my sister-in-law's birthday. And yes, I do drop my napkin a lot these days, especially when I'm waving my arms, talking about behavioral targeting! And thanks for the link...

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Bangalow Accommodation

Excellent post on privacy vs personalisation. It's good to see that the Leaf finally found you, but what if you are going to a "private" clinic of some sort and that info is served up to you when you are in the presence of someone who is not meant to know that you are searching for, or have been to, "a clinic". Replace "clinic" with any word including restaurant, cafe, hotel or a clinic itself. And replace "presence" with husband, wife, girlfriend, boss.... I guess that personalisation is great when you have nothing to hide. And even then when you have nothing to hide, what about just plain privacy? I'm not sure that I want to be on Nissan's database.

over 6 years ago

Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne, Producer at eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit

Thanks for your kind words, Bangalow Accommodation

If I get an ad for a rehab clinic, do people looking over my shoulder assume that it's due to my search behavior? No.

One way forward my, aside from the obvious opt-in and opt-out, may be to manage multiple personalities. I have my professional email address and my personal email address. I look one way on Linked-In and another way on Facebook. I dress one way when I go to the office and another when I go to the beach. My friends from church are always surprised to run into me at the airport. My friends from the world of online marketing are stunned when they see me at the beach. I don't look the same.

No - this targeting thing is not cut and dried. I am sick and tired of Amazon thinking I am a Hello Kitty devotee just because my niece had a crush on their 10 years ago. Fortunately, Amazon lets you fiddle with the recommendations (I already own, I didn't like it, etc).

I think having nothing to hide is a good way to go, don't you?

over 6 years ago

Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne, Producer at eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit

I had to stop reading the Wall Street Journal's ill-conceived article on behavioral tracking when the animation narration included the words, "Some people say that this is an invasion of privacy."

"Some people," used without reference, is an astonishingly slack method of vilification. What people?  How many of them? What, specifically, did you ask them? So Fox News, so unprofessional from a "trusted" news source.

Shame on your W$J.

http://bit.ly/bps2Yz

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Moe Rubenzahl

I agree with Jon that the Leaf ad was probably a coincidence but the point of the article remains valid and of interest. I hate to see the kind of fear-mongering in the WSJ article.

Happily, the paranoids are not winning this battle. Although some people are afraid, they're not building walls. On the company website I run, 97% have cookies on, which is as it should be. We can trade privacy for benefit and I don't think the status quo needs fixing. It certainly doesn't need more confusion and fear.

The key thing I tell people is the same rule that applied pre-web: Only do business with companies you trust, and disclose information they need to give you what you want.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Matt Lillig

I find it funny that the ones who argue against retargeting are the same ones that use grocery store value cards.  Sure, they're happy that they just saved $9 on a cart full of groceries but do they realize what they've just shared with the grocery store analytics team for that $9 savings?  Everything they just bought!  Do they gripe about that?  No.  Why?  Because they just saved $9!!  It's exciting!  Sharing what you just bought at the grocery store is worth that $9 in savings.

Grocery stores are tracking everything you puchase at their store when you use their value cards.  One valuable part of sharing what you bought is that the store will restock the most purchased items (including that bag of chips you love).  All because they know what items are being purchased the most and least. 

Get with it people.  We share data with marketers all the time.  Everytime you watch televeision your usage is being tracked by Nielsen.  That usuage data is being shared with marketers who then buy commercial ads from networks.  Why do you think more commercials for women are played during soap operas???  They know your demographics!  

Being tracked just doesn't happen online, it happens offline all the time!  But for some reason because it's online, it's "creepy".  It's just like when online dating started remember(match.com, yahoo personals, etc.)?  Everybody thought online dating was "creepy".  Now look at online dating...you see tv commercials promoting it!  Even purchasing something online used to be "creepy" ("I would never give my credit card number to a web site!".  Now people give up their credit card online like it's nothing.  

Retargeting is beneficial because the value outweighs the cons for consumers.

over 6 years ago

Jim Sterne

Jim Sterne, Producer at eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit

My grocery store knows

            How healthily I eat
            Which prescription drugs I take
            Which non-prescription drugs I take
            How much alcohol I consume
            How many condoms I buy 

I don't really want my mother knowing all that.

I'd certainly be upset if the grocer was sharing that information with my health insurance company! But I just got $9 off!!!

So it seems there is a line that gets crossed somewhere.

Turns out, this is a more psychological, sociological and cultural issue than merely, "Whom do you trust?" Creepy is in the eye of the beholder. Fear mongering is in the best interests of selling more Wall Street Journals.

over 6 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.