By: Andrew Chou, MediaWhiz GM of Display Advertising
In 2010, the issue that was top of mind with display advertisers was online privacy protection. Privacy is a touchy subject for those in the display industry being that geographical, demographic and behavioral targeting success is dependent on precisely knowing audience habits. Web users and online consumers are justified for harboring information sharing concerns. Ensuring privacy is essential. However, knowing your audience isn’t about names, addresses and faces. It’s about recognizing buyer trends, properly categorizing data and targeting impressions efficiently and effectively.
Display advertisers are able to accurately classify and identify data based on prior user engagement. They are not infringing upon privacy rights because the information is readily available online. Online advertisers utilize social media registrations, email profiles and online purchase information to monitor interest and intent. They track ad clicks, site visits and the amount of time spent on a particular ad or site.
We go from understanding the “who” to tracking the “what”. Edible cookies taste good. Digital cookies give advertisers a good indication of user tastes. Cookie storage is entirely controllable by the user. If a user is concerned that her habits are being monitored by advertisers, she can clear them from her cache. When it comes to cookies, privacy worries are rather half-baked. Let’s say you frequently visit Las Vegas travel sites. Cookies could prompt advertisers to target low airfare deals to Sin City. This is cookie tracking working in favor of the user.
Now this brings us to the “where” of online privacy protection. Again, digital display advertisers are using categories to determine the right banner ads and dynamic media to use for targeting. They do not know you as 33 year old Tara from Brooklyn or 45 year old John from Chicago. Instead, advertisers are seeking to engage “woman from Brooklyn, age 18-35” or “man from Chicago, age 21-49”. Advertisers might hit these respective targets with display ads for feminine hygiene products or leading beer brands, products relevant to each prospective category customer.
Obviously, it is the right of the consumer to protect personal information online. There are laws on the books to aid in this process. Still, users and consumers should think twice before discarding all track-able data. When warranted, privacy protection is crucial. But too many safeguards will shield users from relevant display ads and a better user experience.