USATODAY.com to Target Ads Better with User Info

by , Feb 20, 2003, 12:00 AM
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USATODAY.com began collecting basic demographic information on select portions of the site yesterday, in an effort to "enhance advertising targeting capabilities and improve the effectiveness of advertiser messaging."

According to company officials, by collecting information from three short questions including gender, zip code and year of birth, USATODAY.com hopes to be able to deliver more user-relevant advertising.

"This information collection will help USATODAY.com continue to develop new products and services relevant to users while enhancing advertisers' interaction with our audience," said Jeff Webber, senior vice president and publisher of USATODAY.com.

Company officials say the process will be short and the site does not ask for any personally-identifiable information. Users should only receive the information request once, unless they do not have cookies enabled or they switch computers.

USATODAY is the latest addition to the group of newspaper websites that ask for user information in exchange for content – a practice some online experts once feared (in retrospect, erroneously) would scare consumers from the web due to privacy concerns.

In August of last year, Washingtonpost.com announced they would require users to provide information about themselves in order to have full access to the site. The site uses a similar short survey, designed to move the user quickly through the process, which gathers year of birth, gender and zip code. Advertisers seem supportive of the added targeting capabilities, if only juding by the fact that Washtongtonpost.com was one of the very few sites that were lucky enough to record 50% revenue increases this past year.

USATODAY.com is owned by Gannett Co., Inc.

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