Cookie Monster.com: Jobs Site Lets Users Know When Ads Are Targeted

Employment site Monster.com is tweaking its behavioral targeting program by including in-ad links to preference managers that enable people to pick and choose the types of job ads they would like to see. Users who click on the "Interest Based Ad" links also can opt out of receiving all behaviorally targeted ads from Monster.

The new initiative is similar to the you-are-being-targeted icons recently rolled out by the industry coalition Digital Advertising Alliance. Monster, which is powering the Interest Based Ad link itself, is not participating in the DAA's icon program.

Tom Chevalier, product manager at Monster, says that the company has had an online preference manager since 2010, but decided to create an in-ad link in response to criticisms that the behavioral targeting industry was not adequately regulating itself.

"We thought there was a real opportunity for us to be proactive," he says.

Monster has used a limited form of behavioral targeting since 2007, but plans to soon expand its platform.

For now, the company does not collect data from third-party sites. Instead, Monster creates anonymous profiles of Web users based on activity on Monster's site, and the job listings they click on, and then serves those users ads for similar jobs when the users visit sites in a network where Monster has purchased inventory.

For instance, someone who clicks on an ad for a sales job in Boston in position might be classified by Monster as interested in all open Boston sales jobs. That data is stored on a cookie in the user's computer. Then, Monster is able to show that user other ads for Boston sales jobs.

At some point in the next 12 months Monster intends to expand its program to target people based on the sites they visit, Chevalier says.

Monster does not mesh that cookie-based information with data about job-seekers who have created profiles on the site, says Chevalier. Monster also only sends behaviorally targeted job ads if employers request that.

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