According to a Wall Street Journal article, “The Coming Ad Revolution”, get ready for your web host and Internet Service Provider (ISP) to start bringing ads your way:
The current online-advertising model will become less effective, even as it gets increasingly sophisticated. New players are emerging to devalue the spaces that the ad giants are currently fighting over. Companies you’ve never heard of called NebuAd, Project Rialto, Phorm, Frontporch and Adzilla are pitching tools to Internet service providers that will enable them to track users and show them relevant ads. This approach (called behavioral targeting and already in service by ad networks that track users through so-called tracking cookies) undercuts traditional online publishers, who employ content to lure users and to sell adjacent ads. Now, the ISPs can sell advertisers direct access to the same users.
As online use gets more and more documented and your specific usage is tracked, targeted advertising is on the horizon, aimed right at you.
The idea behind this targeted marketing is more than just tracking your online journey, sifting through your blog, emails, blog comments, social networking, and online chats for keywords and aiming appropriate ads at you. The real move is to profile you and your needs to develop a “trust” relationship, easing naturally suspicious attitudes toward advertising, trusting advertisers to direct you to spend your money with confidence that they are putting you first.
Facebook is mentioned as a key example and component in teaching and training users to add personal data voluntarily to their profiles based upon their “trust” of Facebook, which helps advertisers target their specific demographic needs. Facebook recently launched Facebook Beacon, which had many, including GigaOM and PC World, publicly worried about privacy issues and methods that encourage users to give away private and personal information under pretense of security and trust. According to the article, the Facebook Beacon project turned into a PR nightmare as the worries and negative publicity spread, but added that it “familiarized millions of users with the notion that they can control information about themselves online — and determine to whom it is visible.”
In other words, you may think you control your privacy, but you might be really handing over the keys to your personal life in the process. In an article last year on protecting your blog password and security access, I reported on the MySpace phishing attempt in which more than 100,000 people gave away their username and password before the scam was shut down – even after warnings to not do so. The concerns by many are justified as there are so many gullible people being drawn into the growing, lucrative phishing industry and the abuse of online profiling.
In 2005, I wrote about Google’s move toward profiling individual’s search patterns to better target search results to your needs, based upon your search habits, which could also be incorporated easily into targeted advertising. If you use Gmail and other Google services, you will see that the advertising in the sidebar and in and around the page typically matches keywords within the content, attempting to aim content specific advertising in your direction. Their attempts towards integrating profiling are described in Search Engine Journal’s Google Advertising Patents for Behavioral Targeting, Personalization and Profiling and Google Patent – Organic Results Ranked by User Profiling by Search Engine Journal.
An important aspect to SEO4B (Search Engine Optimization for Blogs) is the concept of your blog demographics represented by like-minded individuals, those who think like you, need your information, and want to participate on your blog because of shared interests. Profiling is a natural path to attracting the like-minded to your blog. Is a blog profiling service in our future, where bloggers can pay to bring like-minds to their blogs and then target them with “link-minded” advertising?
Personally, I highly recommend we keep our private lives private, taking great care not to expose ourselves through our blogs and social networking interactions. But profiling is coming. It’s here already, hidden and exposed. The technology is attracting investors and venture capitalists from around the world.
Are you ready for your web, blog, and social networking usage to be used to bring products and services to you, whether you want them or not?