Let the “targeted advertisement” race begin

August 13, 2007

I have been anxiously awaiting this day. My Space has begun a “targeted ad” campaign which if successful, I think will revolutionize the advertising world. The benefits of targeted advertisements is simple:

Deliver more meaningful advertisements

It is a fact of life that quality content must either be paid for (Cable channels) or supplemented through advertisements (Network). We have been living with advertisements on television since it’s inception. Although TV/Cable content providers have become more intelligent about their ad placements (My wife does not understand half of the humor displayed in the advertisements during a Football game on Sunday), there was no real way to determine who was watching television.

Enter “Cookies” – no not your mom’s chocolate chip cookie. Imagine the Nielsen Ratings group – only in EVERY household. Essentially every visitor to a web site can be tracked. And with sites like Facebook and MySpace your content retrieval habits can also be tracked. Imagine watching television and getting an advertisement that said: “Goes great with the new pair of brown pants you just bought last week from the store”. Freaky yes, but I would rather have this ad then a bunch of ads completely unrelated to what I am looking for.

Targeted advertisements hold the key to increased click-through rates and even higher completion rates (someone actually purchases). I know this topic represents a mixed bag – but I think that this is the best thing to happen to the Internet. Among its benefits:

  • Potential for less advertisements – key concept here is that the websites sprinkle a ton of advertisements in hopes that one of them is clicked
  • Advertisements are more successful – no more campaigns with unknown return value
  • Freak the hell out of your Mom – ha- no seriously, though, remember the Minority Report? Imagine an ad directed towards your mom? I know mine would freak out. “How’d they know that I just remodeled my kitchen”?

There are certainly some challenges and I think that the general privacy community will certainly have problems with statements like this:

If someone’s been identified as someone who’s interested in fashion, we target ads to them that have nothing to do with fashion, and then ads that would direct them to say, the MySpace fashion channel.”

How do they determine someone is “interested in fashion”. Do they look at my MySpace messages? At my “Blog” posts? Surely someone will want a public deceleration of the data collection policies used to determine the targeted advertisements.

At any rate – we are on our way, so we shall see!

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7 Responses to “Let the “targeted advertisement” race begin”

  1. mikull Says:

    i am surprised at you! targeted advertising is easy these days- with the right coding knowledge and analytical software running on the back end. If you asked me, myspace is behind in the game- Amazon’s been doing it forever, based on user interaction.

    where i work, we purchased one of many analytics packages, and it would freak you out what we can know. cookies. clicks. it’s all there- from your OS to your gender- from your browsing habits to your exact location. big brother moved into the internets a long time ago.

    the easy part is feeding that data into something else- the coding part is targeting your *cough* wealth of content back through your code. THEN, you analyze that, and do it all over again. Easy as pie.

  2. notronwest Says:

    Ahhh, be careful, are you potentially confusing Advertisements with Product Recommendations? I know that they have an extensive list of recommendations based on your previous product choices, but have the truly turned that over to advertisement? Would they ever really want to? Why target an ad for a competitors site based on the fact that you bought the latest CD from 50 cent?

    The key piece here that I am trying to expose is that the information regarding your likes/dislikes comes from where? Is MySpace going to be reviewing your posts on friends sites? Your messages to your friends? Surely they could, it is all database driven.

    Much like the little known fiasco with Yahoo.com a year or so ago when they tracked your navigation habits and presented that data to 3rd party companies.

    Just trying to figure out where that divide occurs, which is essentially this:

    Any content you submit on a public website, is just that Public

    Free for anyone to use including Advertisers.

  3. mikull Says:

    It would seem that I was confusing them- but no. I was pointing out that advertisements and product recommendations are the same- drive by the same thing you point out- user submissions.

    Let’s define that for today. Any content you submit on the web is public. Your personal content, as you submit it to the web, is like a complex animal. Purchases- accounts- habits. But like any complex animal, the cellular level of this beast is clicks.

    What Amazon does is advertise itself- product recommendations are not only comprised of shopping history and wishlist items- it remembers what you’ve simply looked at, with or without an account.

    Google Ad-Sense, of course, does the same thing- not internally. Cookies and tracking are getting more complex. Less than geek minded surfers should know the treasure chest their cache and cookies holds for potential advertisements. I’ve seen banner ads with images that display my location. (“Hey! See sexy hot singles in STATEN ISLAND!”)

    Your google searches, your account log-ins, your region, your habits- it’s all there an it’s more than enough to create targeted advertising. Take that only a few simple steps further- allow more personal data to get stuck to your virtual head while you walk around through license agreements you’ve scrolled past to eagerly accept and get on with your new software/beta/user experience.

    I guess my point is, there isn’t much work needed to create the content targeted environment you’re speaking of. It’s an under-utilized area of the net we will see quickly expand as analytic software becomes more powerful and purchased- and further still, the more code we as developers can write for it.

    * While typing this, I imagined I didn’t know you. Then I figured out what all the bots, cookies, caches, and social networking databases you belong to could tell me about you. It’s like a digital harvest, and the farmer knows your binary better than you do, brother. He’s got me too.

  4. notronwest Says:

    I think that i now see we are in agreement. There is enough information out there about my Internet habits, that people could target me. I will agree that Amazon is doing targeted sales but I can say strongly that no other major site is selling “Targeted Ads”.

    I think we all agree that the websites and the ad owners “want” targeted ads, it is just that no one has taken the leap. Ad words work based on the content of the page (see my post about our ad placement – Open source makes money on lead referrals).

    This will be interesting and I think that you will see some unhappy people out there waiting to pull their content of MySpace because of potential invasion of privacy.

    Maybe we are coming to the realization that information is information – even if it is about us – it does not make us any less private.

  5. mikull Says:

    agreed. it’s all there and it’s only a matter of time.
    it’s curious it’s taken so long. maybe we could make a lot money consulting about it.


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