The Linguistics Of Behavioral Advertising: "Tracking And Targeting Are Terms We Use In War"

Facebook's new privacy policy apparently will allow the company to send targeted ads to users even when they're not on the social networking site. But that new policy has many observers wondering whether consumers will find those types of ads too creepy.

Raghu Kakarala posed a variation of question Tuesday morning to a panel of experts. "Are people ready for Facebook to follow them outside of Facebook when it comes to targeting?" he asked.

The panelists' answers showed far more bullishness about ad targeting than concerns about a privacy backlash.

Chris Emme, Radiumone's east coast sales director, said that Facebook users already are used to the idea that Facebook follows them around the Web because they're already signing in to other sites with Facebook IDs.

Yes, but that's opt-in, Kakarala said. He then pushed the panelists on whether the industry is ready for a new wave of backlash in the press.

John Montgomery, COO of GroupM Interaction, North America, replied that the industry might not be prepared for an unfavorable reaction -- but says the blame lies with marketers for failing to educate people. "There's a huge amount of communication and education that has to be done," he says, adding that he would like marketers to say they collect data in order to give consumers free content, as opposed to targeting ads. "We also have to change the language we use," he says. "Tracking and targeting are terms we use in war. These are things you do before you kill people."

Montgomery also says that consumers have no reason to be concerned about ad targeting because marketers aren't the type of black-hat players who will engage in identity theft.

But what about privacy, as opposed to security? Or, as Kakarala asked: "Is it truly our view that there's nothing we do that's out of bounds in ad targeting?"

By and large, the panelists agreed that ads might be poorly received when they're for products that consumers don't want, but that targeting in itself isn't problematic.

"If targeting is done well, it goes unnoticed," said David Rollo, chief strategy officer of BlinQ Media. "If it goes very bad, it ends up on the front page of the Times."
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