23 Nov 2007

Behavioral targeting or consumer exploitation?

Behavioral targeting has been a way for online marketers to condition or otherwise “think” for consumers. This according to a 2004 article on the subject by Andy Chen, then vice president of digital solutions for Viacom Brand Solutions.

Web 2.0 however supposedly put users back in control of their thoughts and opinions. So how is behavioral targeting being used now?

Facebook recently announced that companies can join their social networking site and use friends’ endorsements as a form of advertising to other members. While advertisers will not have access to specific users’ profiles, they can target potential consumers using precise personal data such as age, gender, affiliated network, hobbies, etc.

Ester Dyson, journalist and internet commentator said during a recent conference for internet entrepreneurs that it is important that there is adequate transparency and that users know what information advertisers have about them.

According Facebook, “users can become a fan of a business and can share information about that business with their friends and act as a trusted referral.” The phrase “trusted referral” is key here. It remains a distinct possibility that “fans” could be compensated for their referrals and became a sort of online horde of brand evangelicals.

No one can deny the value of a good recommendation but the challenge for advertisers who want to leverage Web 2.0’s wealth of information is to advertise in a way that does not misrepresent their intentions or exploit their “fans.”


1 comment:

Anamma blog team said...

Some Facebook users are not taking this lying down. http://blog.clickz.com/071121-134156.html