behavioral targeting

FTC seeks to expand restrictions on data collection from children

For more than a decade, companies in the United States operating websites that collect data from children have been required to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

At the time COPPA was implemented, the internet ecosystem was far less mature, and the law didn’t cover all of the parties that today frequently collect data from children. So yesterday, the FTC published a proposal (PDF) with the intent of modifying COPPA to ensure that parties not currently governed by COPPA’s rules are covered.

Beyond cookies: digital fingerprints may track personal devices

Cookie monster

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a comprehensive online privacy report calling on the industry to offer consumers a simple opt-out mechanism, i.e. a universal “do not track” setting on the browser. So what will the FTC think of the digital fingerprinting businesses a new crop of tech firms are trying to launch: targeting ads by tracking users’ individual devices. 

The promise is more accuracy and better targeting than cookies. But
will the business model creep consumers out more than cookies already do?

Adobe’s latest problem: Privacy lawsuits targeting “zombie cookies”

A new battle is being waged in the online targeting wars. Privacy specialist Joseph Malley filed three lawsuits this month against online ad serving companies that use something called “zombie cookies.” Defendants include brands like MTV, Disney and Quantcast.

And while the practice might not be widespread, it could be another blow against Adobe, since it involves advertisers using Flash to track consumers, even after they have deleted their cookies.

Behavioral targeters need to find a balance between helpful and creepy

Zappos knows what you did last summer. Or maybe what you did last time you were on the Zappos website. The shoe seller is just one of many companies that tracks customer activity online to serve more relevant advertising.

Such tools have has the ability to make product searches much easier online. But they also creep some people out. And behavioral targeters need to figure out the difference before regulators really start paying attention.

Apple closes the iTunes store for iPhone users who don’t want to share their location

Apple has found a new way to get people to agree to online tracking: withhold applications from them if they don’t. This week Apple is launching a new iPhone. And with that comes a new operating system and the company’s new advertising platform.

According to Apple’s new privacy policy, users can opt out if they don’t want to be served targeted ads. But if they don’t want to share their location information with the company, they also won’t have access to new apps from the iTunes store.

Study: Opt-in regulation decreases ad effectiveness by 65%

As Congress mulls a recently proposed online privacy bill draft, advertisers and privacy advocates are making the case for their competing interests on the matter. But a new study from two marketing professors argues that any privacy regulation will negatively effect the utility of online advertising.

According to the study, called “Privacy Regulation and Online Advertising,” forcing users to opt-in to online tracking can have a negative effect on advertising efforts — reducing effectiveness by 65%.

Forget Facebook. Privacy issues are brewing in people search.

With all the negative attention that Facebook has received for its privacy approach recently, the media — and regulators — are especially sensitive about online privacy right now.

But there’s another kind of site that is raising privacy flags. People search. These sites compile personal data without consumers’ knowledge. It’s just the kind of thing that is sure to draw regulators. But lumping these sites in with online marketing efforts is a mistake.

New bill maintains current online advertising practices. And privacy advocates are not pleased.

Privacy advocates and online advertisers alike have long awaited a bill from Congress that will tackle the issue of behavioral advertising online. Today, Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Cliff Stearns released (R-Fla.) a “discussion” draft of the bill (pdf here) that requires advertisers to allow consumers to opt-out of online tracking.

Considering that is already standard business practice, it appears that the online ad industry’s efforts at self-regulation have been initially successful. But privacy advocates are not going to take this setback lying down.

Study: Privacy concerns limit marketers’ usage of behaviorally targeted advertising

Privacy issues have been the bane of behavioral targeters’ existence for awhile now. But how much impact have privacy advocates had on the industry? According to a new study from the Ponemon Institute, marketers now use behavioral targeting 75% less than they would like.

That should be enough to strike fear in the hearts of behavioral targeters. As if there weren’t already enough reason to be bearish on the future of BT.

PreferenceCentral lets consumers manage the advertising they see online. Will they use it?

Online advertisers are working hard to self-regulate and avoid the wrath of the Federal Trade Commission when it comes to behavioral targeting. To help with those efforts, spam management company UnsubCentral launched a new tool that gives people more control over the ads they see online. PreferenceCentral lets consumers decide what kinds of behaviorally targeted advertising they do and do not want to recieve.

If individuals (and online advertisers) start using it, UnsubCentral could play a big role in serving more relevant (and welcome) advertising online. Trouble is, there’s no way to know that will happen.