The article in Metro last week (and no doubt countless other news sources) concerning “Britain being taken to court for flouting European rules on internet privacy” got me thinking about the dilemma companies face when it comes to behavioural targeting.
On the one hand, I’m sure most people wouldn’t be that keen on knowing that their browsing habits were being monitored by unseen snoops at faceless agencies, intent on silently infiltrating our every thought in cyberspace through our keystrokes. Surely this is just a few steps away from plugging us all into “The Matrix”.
On the other hand, what’s the point of brands paying money to advertise to a wide ranging audience, when they know for a fact that a significant percentage of that audience is just not the right fit for their product? Now that the technology is available wouldn’t the common sense approach be to tighten up on the accuracy, leading to a better ROI for the brand and wasting less time for the consumer?
I’m stuck somewhere in the middle here. A lot of free websites rely on the income they generate by selling ad space to brands so that they can remain free to the end user. Personally, if I’m being forced to look at an advert, I would rather it be more significant to me than not. However, that doesn’t mean I’d be totally happy with companies capturing too much data about everywhere else I look on the web – I mean, what’s to stop them going one step further and monitoring my online banking habits or other highly sensitive information that could potentially fall into the wrong hands?
Maybe the solution would be somewhere in the middle – with some sort of government regulatory body having control of what can and can’t be captured and how this information could be stored and used – like an updated version of the Information Commissioner’s Office for digital marketers.
Has anyone got any thoughts about how advertisers can make use of this technology whilst keeping civil liberties intact?