free html hit counter That Old Database of Intentions, It Be Growin' - John Battelle's Search Blog

That Old Database of Intentions, It Be Growin'

By - March 10, 2008

The Web companies are, in effect, taking the trail of crumbs people leave behind as they move around the Internet, and then analyzing them to anticipate people’s next steps. So anybody who searches for information on such disparate topics as iron supplements, airlines, hotels and soft drinks may see ads for those products and services later on.

Consumers have not complained to any great extent about data collection online. But privacy experts say that is because the collection is invisible to them. Unlike Facebook’s Beacon program, which stirred controversy last year when it broadcast its members’ purchases to their online friends, most companies do not flash a notice on the screen when they collect data about visitors to their sites.

“When you start to get into the details, it’s scarier than you might suspect,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy rights group. “We’re recording preferences, hopes, worries and fears.” (NYT link)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

6 thoughts on “That Old Database of Intentions, It Be Growin'

  1. Mallory says:

    This is becoming one of the major issues that internet users are facin today: privacy. I don’t think there is one site that you can visit, without having an ad pop-up. If it doesn’t occur on your first visit to a site, then it will most likely occur the next time.

    I think it is a good way for advertisers to target certain audiences and customers. However, although we may visit a site for one reason or another, doesn’t mean that we always want to receive advertisements for the company’s products or e-mails.

    On the other hand, I would rather see pop-up advertisements than receive all these e-mails for offers. Unfortunately, it’s getting to the point where you don’t even need to provide your e-mail address, and you will still receive unwanted offers and advertisements.

    I think some companies and ad agencies have taken the idea of marketing a company’s product, AKA target marketing, a little too far. It does in a way invade our privacy because anywhere we go online, anything we search, someone is tracking us by what we search for and/or what we buy

  2. The ad servers will always be on step behind. You’re giving me Britney Spears ads now based on previous searches but now I’m searching for Lindsey Lohan.

    Future search and surf behavior is not necessarily anticipate-able because our sphere of influences extends beyond just the internet and can’t be predicted based solely on past behavior. Of course we are creatures of habit though.

    Ads on mortgage rates, iron supplements, and hotel prices in Paris are irrelevant to me once I’ve already refinanced my house to take a trip to France just to pick up cheap iron supplements.

  3. nmw says:

    OMG this isn’t even worth 0.02 — what GIGO-crap! was less than a month ago — where has their attention span gone? These meaningless random clickers do not create any meaningful data! WAKE UP!!

    Besides that, the report’s focus still seems to be on some antiquarian notion of “demographics” — it’s not that people HAVE dogs that’s important, it’s whether/if/when people are THINKING about dogs — and if PetSmart is too lame to have anything configured, then that is all the better for , , etc.

    So if you REALLY want some GOOD data, then ask people who manage some reasonable portfolios!

    Pfft… — how much money was waste on THAT?!?

  4. mrg says:

    coincidentally, i found myself queasy watching my browser fire off requests to with FF LiveHeaders. WTF? i thought, esp. after reviewing

    ..and then realizing, damn, i haven’t even installed the GOOG FF toolbar. It’s pretty farkin’ nefarious; some might even be compelled to call that spyware. But the lawyers & corporate tools have properly marketed it as a better Internet.

  5. Last time I checked, “hopes, worries and fears” were not commercially viable behaviors to target. But they certainly are elements of a FUD campaign.

    This is crazy. Don’t people realize how much offline data organizations in the US have over each of our households? It pales in comparison to online data. It is SO MUCH easier to violate a person’s privacy offline than online.

    This smells like a FUD campaign from people who want to make sure the MSFT/YHOO deal doesn’t happen — like maybe Google. There’s no way in hell Google has fewer touch points with Web users — what with AdSense, search, YouTube, their toolbar, Google Analytics, etc.