The internet is becoming ever more personalized. Content can be created, shaped and tailored just for you. So you wouldn’t mind being told about products and services that may interest you whilst you browse?

The thing is, you probably already are – but don’t even know it. Chances are, with every click, you could be being monitored. Websites can install tracking technology on your computer without you even realising it. This information – the sites you visit, the products you buy online, what you’re interested in – is then sold on to advertisers, so they can target you with appropriate content.

A big deal? Yes. For both the advertising industry, and for you. You probably don’t want companies to know this stuff. At StrawberryFrog we think this is the future of marketing – the personalized experience. But the personalized experience means that you need to open yourself up. Not everyone wants this.

Take the advertising industry, for example. They are doing something about it. According to reports, major advertising industry associations are now in discussions with internet-browser makers to create a solution such as a ‘Do Not Track’ tool which indicates you don’t want any monitoring of your online interests. In reality, of course, these requests will have to be honoured in order for this to work.

Some commentators have said that the ad industry was against such tools – but really, shouldn’t this have been seen as an opportunity? In an age where we all want personalized content, where we like to be spoken to directly and part of a conversation with brands, why wouldn’t we want to know about something that will – in all likelihood - actually interest us?

If the ad industry can give us targeted information we’ll actually want to read, a blanket ‘do not track me’ tool could mean that we miss out on potentially juicy details. An ‘opt-out’ solution which means you can choose not be subjected to behaviourally-targeted ads is a favoured option, but some say this still doesn’t go far enough. So it looks like the outcome could be a hybrid made up of the two tools.

It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. We want the internet to be personal, we want two-way conversations, but we’re also fiercely protective of our own privacy. It’s up to the ad and internet industry to give us the best of both worlds.

Image by: Trebor Scholz

Original Post: http://scottgoodson.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/04/are-targeted-ads-tracking-you-down.html

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