Will Real-Time Tweets Become Fair Game For BT?

David Hallerman, eMarketer senior analyst, calls search a brief way station that users jump from, moving from a search engine to one Web site and, perhaps, to another.

During each movement from page to page, users' actions are tracked and recorded through the browser. Google and Yahoo monitor that browser behavior. And although the two engines separately provide a way to opt out of ad targeting, a recent post by Zachary Rodgers at ClickZ suggests that not many people choose, or take the time, to do so.

In fact, a rough calculation suggests about 6,600 of Google's users, at the most, opt out of ad targeting per week, Rodgers writes. It appears that behavioral targeting will become an accepted practice. People will want to see ads that can provide them with the knowledge to make informed decisions. They just will need to keep in mind that brands speak to them in marketing tongue, so they shouldn't take the message at face value.



The question becomes whether the engines will consider using real-time tweets and status updates from MySpace and Facebook as a targeting method to reach people searching for information, products or services on the Web. And whether using that data to target behavior is, indeed, a breach of privacy.

Hallerman notes that it's one thing for search engines to take the keyword data you searched for and use it to determine advertising metrics, and yet another to tap into the semi-personal tweets from Twitter or social network posts from Facebook to target or retarget ads toward people based on behavior and searches.

Well, it appears more people have become aware of ad targeting during the past five years, but not many people seem to want to take action to stop from being targeted -- not even with paid search ads.

Paid search ads are a form of behavioral targeting. The search-based ads serve up not only in engine queries on Google, but most Web mail systems, such as Gmail. Such systems interpret words used in a keyword query or in a social network site to target users with ads.

"Most paid search ads are not news-based or what's hot, but rather product-based," Hallerman says. "If the name of a product turns up in a paid search ad, then, of course, the ad could target the Twitter feed."

Companies will continue to tap into behavioral targeting. For example, in a recent interview, Neil Ashe, CBS Interactive's president, said the company's new ad strategy will include not only a move away from ad networks, but a move toward more ad-targeted programs, adding internal behavioral targeting programs in the first quarter.

9 comments about "Will Real-Time Tweets Become Fair Game For BT?".
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  1. Michelle Cubas from Positive Potentials LLC, December 16, 2009 at 1:47 p.m.

    Hi, Laurie,

    This sounds like surveillance by "bright shiny objects." I am not a conspiracy theorist. Yet, I've had a healthy suspicion about the technology that is positioned as convenient and "can't-live-without" devices—(I feel naked when I forget my cell phone!) They are often referred to as "toys."

    We're heading into quicksand with all this data crunching. Personally, my advice is for people not to be so eager to share all their information.

    Happy holidays!

  2. The digital Hobo from, December 16, 2009 at 2:03 p.m.

    not surprised about the low number of opt-outters. most people don't know you can.

    there's also a larger problem for cookie based targeting. who doesn't have some sort of spyware cleaner or anti-virus that deletes your cookies these days? I'm not convinced that publishers or targeting networks can build up enough of a profile to take advantage of in a significant way.

    there's not enough versions of ads to take advantage of the profiles that are created.

    If if you are able to tell that someone is a blue eyed, red haired, left handed cricket player that is a lover of Napa wines and drives a luxury sedan, has one child, and is planning a trip to Europe, what advertisers have a piece of creative ready to deliver to that profile? Few? Any? Mostly you'd end up with an ad from a "travel" or "mens" channel from a network. Where's the benefit of all that BT at work?

  3. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., December 16, 2009 at 2:15 p.m.

    Real-Time Tweeting BT. Nonsense. What does "Dudes had rad face time with killer babe" tell you about somebody except that they really don't have a life because they're Tweeting everything? What would you target this with? Body wash? Condoms? For all you know this is a 13 year old liar, or a 52 year old trying to relive their misspent youth. 140 characters of digital glop tell you nothing. Three years from now we'll all be going "remember Twitter?"

  4. Greg Hall from Yebol, December 16, 2009 at 4:15 p.m.

    The only value of so much noise is sustained brand visibility in a real-time search ranking system. Other than that, it's noise.

  5. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, December 17, 2009 at 10:51 a.m.

    BT needs to be clarified. There is tasteful and useful BT and there is privacy invasive. Mr. Robert's is wrong btw. Most people have no idea they can opt-out of BT on Google. I had no idea until just now. And I am going to after I click submit. And the more people realize how much exposed they are when they tweet or update on Facebook I bet more and more will opt out if given the choice clearly in front of them. Most people have their Facebook pages set on private so it would be the opposite if we wanted exposure. And while Tweets are public domain I sure wouldn't use tweets for BT because you would be trying to analyze mostly drivel and possibly not add value to the user experience. If I tweet I had a diet coke with lunch and you try to send me advertising for pepsi does that add value to me? Yes if you send a coupon for FREE pepsi. But in the market there are deals every week that sway me one way or another between coke and pepsi. Since I have tried pepsi and coke nothing either brand can do will change my view of the taste (and 99.999% of the US has tried both). And if I tweeted I had a diet coke with lunch...maybe it was because diet pepsi wasn't offered by the sandwich shop even though it is my preferred choice...THUS in reality coke should be targeting me! And what if I rarely drink soda but the place had no juice. Maybe sending me soda advertising is a waste because that was a rare event!?

  6. Ken Nicholas from VideoAmp, December 17, 2009 at 5:06 p.m.

    From @Howie above, I don't see anybody is wrong here: the fact that 6,600 [out of millions] opt-out, only supports that many have no idea on this.

    But I agree on the 'drivel analysis' point, and wonder: is BT going to effective? Shouldn't RT be the one everybody is looking at here instead?

  7. Sandro Saitta from FinScore, December 18, 2009 at 2:39 a.m.

    I disagree with most of the comment here. Using tweets for BT may be meaningful. Of course with an example such as "Dudes had rad face time with killer babe", it sounds stupid. But Twitter is not only that (but I agree it also contains a lots of such tweets). But in 140 characters, you can have a lot of important keywords.

    For example, if you use BT with my tweets, you will certainly end up with a profile with terms such as data mining, behavioral targeting, etc.

  8. Andre Szykier from maps capital management, December 18, 2009 at 1:40 p.m.

    The FBI Carnivore program use[s/d] a customizable packet sniffer at an ISP or a backbone network node to monitor all of a target user's Internet traffic. The same principle was pushed earlier in the UK by a private vendor to build a longitudinal view of anyone's surfing habits, at least at the domain IP level. These act like network, as opposed to site, beacons, creating the equivalent of a call detail record in telephony (from/to address, time, duration etc.).

    CDR like data is partially behavioral once you have hundreds of data points associated with an originating IP address. Cluster analysis can create stable categories of your interests not only in content but over time.

    This is where we are going unless legislation blocks this. I doubt that Congress or States will interfere until such information begins to be synthesized into something like a FICO credit score that prosecutors will have access to and use.

    Consider your BT data similar to a DNA fingerprint: unique to each individual. A cluster of "one" can easily be aggregated into a cluster of similar "ones" for any purpose.

  9. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, December 23, 2009 at 4:24 p.m.

    Using Tweets is not useful for the Tweeter! Useful is when Advertising is relevant and offers me the best outcome/choice. If someone is paying to launch their ad to me then its who pays the most, not who is most relevant and useful. And if those ads become clutter? Good by Twitter. Do I want 37 soda ads/offers if I mention Coke? Or even one? Well I will take the one if it offers me a FREE soda. But otherwise what am I getting that I can't get from print, TV etc? And I sure don't want my phone cluttered with mobile ads. Online I have no worries because all Ad Serving networks are blocked from my browser except for a few specific websites that provide me free content.

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