Monday, April 6, 2009

Target Practice: An Advertisement for Behavioral-Advertising Backlash

Get ready for a massive backlash against behavioral advertising, the push to target consumers across the Web based on their cookie data. I recently wrote about Expedia's foray into selling cookie data to third parties in the U.S.

The Travolution Blog, too, wonders about the advent of "Big Brother 2.0."

Now, it turns out, the European Union is slated to investigate online advertising practices against the backdrop of many people expressing outrage that consumers' privacy rights are being bashed in the latest targetting practices.

The Shearwater Blog, meanwhile, is reserving judgment on some of the particular advertising practices that triggered the EU's focus.

The EU authorities appear to be ahead of the game in these privacy matters as compared to their U.S. counterparts.

Or maybe not.

The Guardian reported that new EC regulations require Internet Service Providers to keep certain records of consumers' e-mails and Web-based phone calls.

I wonder if the EC is going to investigate itself on this privacy issue, as well.

At any rate, I believe we'll be hearing a lot more about online privacy issues in the U.S. in the coming months and years as they relate to travel e-commerce and the online retail industry in general.

In the U.S., Google recently began a behavioral advertising program, but it doesn't go as far as Expedia's PassportAds program in that Google does not sell consumers' cookie data to airlines, hotels or any other third parties.

But, it is only a matter of time before this behavioral trend gains more traction unless a groundswell labels it as misbehavior.

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