Should Online Behavioural Targeting Be Regulated?

Online behavioural testing presents businesses with a fool-proof way in which to target consumers. However, with key advertising industry bodies set to develop rules to regular online behavioural targeting – what will the impact be on this practice? - SMH Inside the Cookie Monster

Source: Sydney Morning Herald 'Inside the Cookie Monster - trading your online data for profit'

Recently reported by Mumbrella,  ‘key advertising bodies (such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Australian Direct Marketing Association and Media Federation of Australia) are coming together to create industry guidelines on the fast growing practice of online behavioural targeting’.

Online behavioural targeting is enabled by tracking devices (including cookies, beacons and/or flash cookies) on websites which monitor the behaviour of each individual user, aggregating that information for use in delivering more targeted content and/or advertising.

Mike Zeederberg, Founder and Managing Director of digital agency Zuni, makes a positive case for the growth of online behavioural targeting, describing online behavioural targeting as a veritable ‘nirvana‘ for advertisers. He purports that those within the industry need to educate consumers and officials alike to the benefit of this practice with regards to their overall online experience.

Conversely, online behavioural targeting has been posed as being invasive of consumer privacy and in some case trading of this data has been cast in a somewhat ethically-dubious light. With the Sydney Morning Herald recently reporting that this information is now being floated to the highest bidder in a ‘new kind of stock exchange‘.

This issue raises a number of questions:

  • Will this argument  of ‘tracking for your benefit’ wash with consumers, whose details are being ‘covertly’ collected without their knowledge or consent?
  • With online behavioural targeting practice already well established, how will the impending guidelines be enforced?
  • What impact will these guidelines have in general, on an industry who have been largely self-regulated?

No matter what the answer to these questions, it is clear that as Zeederberg points out, online retailers need to join the conversation. What are your thoughts?

Nirosha Methananda

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Nirosha is a content creator for The Media Pad, publisher of Power Retail. Coming from a marketing and communications background (in the legal, retail and online industries), Nirosha is excited to be able to put her knowledge and experience to work for Power Retail. Recently engaged, Nirosha is immersing herself in the joys of wedding planning! She is also an avid reader (of mostly fiction), always keen to get onto the golf course, likes to paint, tries to sing and is able to recall useless celebrity facts at the drop of a hat!

One Comment

  • no different really to advertisers knowing the demographic of watchers of tv shows. Frankly if i like to fish, i want to see fishing related ads. I don’t watch music videos, so why should i want to see ads for music videos?


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