Security Co. Keystroke Data To Support Behaviorally Targeted Ads

Next month Scout Analytics will begin testing keystroke dynamics -- technology that creates individual digital fingerprints for each consumer user -- as a behavioral targeting tactic.

A Scout media client will perform the test for several months. Then Scout plans to offer its technology to retailers and other businesses that target ads directly to consumers through behavioral targeting platforms.

Keystroke dynamics analyze typing patterns such as how long each key gets held down while typing, and the length of time between each press. These typing patterns represent a signature. So, rather than rely on a cookie that can get wiped out by clearing a browser, now behavioral targeters can use parameters from browsers that create a digital fingerprint.

"It's one way to track individual users without providing personally identifiable information," says Matt Shanahan, vice president of strategy for Scout Analytics.

The technology originated in the Internet security space. Scout's parent company, a business unit of AdmitOne Security, used keystroke dynamics to authenticate subscriptions to bank accounts.



Seeing AdmitOne's results, Scout began to use the technology as well in January 2009. "We had a number of customers who didn't want their paid content being abused by having passwords shared, so they used the technology to determine whether multiple people were sharing accounts," Shanahan says.

Scout's strategists also began to see the kind of profiles the technology could build. So they began offering it to its clients, all B2B companies, to help them rank customers and find those more - and less -- likely to buy product. There's a lot of behavioral analytics in fraud security. >

The company now monitors about 3 million user sessions weekly.

Aside from keystrokes and biometrics, the technology also analyzes where on the network a user originates. Armed with that information, the technology identifies the user's IP address, domain name, who owns it, if it's a business, and its location.

Ironically, a little success could turn parent company AdmitOne Security into the subsidiary, and Scout into the parent company, Shanahan says. "It seems that our ad targeting business based on behavior continues to grow much faster than the security services," he says.

No doubt, I say.

2 comments about "Security Co. Keystroke Data To Support Behaviorally Targeted Ads".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, February 18, 2010 at 2:45 p.m.

    None of this is an improvement for Advertisers trying to reach the 700,000 Firefox Browsers that download Ad Blocker Plus each week. I don't think anyone has an issue with a retail site using BT to improve the experience or offer choices since it would take 25 minutes to browser a supermarket aisle online vs 3 minutes live. But there is a fine line regarding purposes for the BT when privacy is involved.

    There was the first full blown academic research study done in 2009 that found 83% of people were against BT, and over 50% said the managers of firms using BT should go to jail if they do not tell the consumer this is happening with an opt out. Thank you for this update because I need to find that research study.

  2. Nelson Yuen from Stereotypical Mid Sized Services Corp., February 18, 2010 at 3:02 p.m.

    Um... I'm trying to be polite...

    So out of respect for such a knowledgeable author;

    Pushing back on your "2009 survey."

    As for the advertisers trying to reach the "700,000 Firefox browsers downloading ad blocker"

    I don't think you have the technical knowledge to determine whether "Ad Blocker" works against BT... especially not a platform designed to measure keystroke data.

    I'm not ENTIRELY sure of the coding, but let's put it this way - Ad Blocker blocks advertising scripts from initiating. The program recognizes scripts based on historical banner and pop up architecture coupled with some standard Java and HTML. (A good example is a floating Iframe.) BT virtually has nothing to do with Ad Blocker. I COULD BE WRONG, but what you're saying makes very little sense from a programmer's point of view. (I for one am not a programmer, but I know how a banner is coded and how it is blocked by Ad Blocker.)

    I gotta throw this in... you sound slightly confusing and potentially misinformed. The super market example seems foreign and invalid... (A supermarket... really? You couldn't just say Aldo Shoes or Best Buy? Something relevant that someone could disagree with by citing the growing online purchasing behavior of consumers.... Had to mention something that would confuse readers???)

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