'Retargeted' Advertisements Create Renewed Calls for Regulation

Lora Bentley
Slide Show

Check out highlights from Lora's poll of industry experts on the topic of online security.

Privacy appears to be the name of the game-for today, at least. According to The New York Times, targeted advertising is in privacy advocates' sights again, this time because of a particular process called "personalized retargeting or remarketing."


Though it's not a new concept, retargeting reaches a level of personalization that advertisers love, but many consumers find unnerving. In fact, my coworker pointed me to the article with the note, "Cue creepy music..."


Here's how The New York Times explains the process:

[W]hen a person visits an e-commerce site and looks at say, ...a satchel on eBags.com, a cookie is placed into that person's browser, linking it with the handbag. When that person... visits another site, the system creates an ad for that very purse.

One customer said her experience with an online diet program resulted in ads for the service "following her around" even after she no longer used the service. "It makes me feel fat," she said.


No doubt such discomfort gives rise to privacy advocates pressing once again for government regulation of targeted ad practices. The issue has been debated for months, and stakeholders have had ample opportunity to make the case for and against regulation, both before the FTC and before congressional committees. The next step is up to the agency or Congress itself.


Though a group of congressmen has announced an intent to introduce online privacy legislation, nothing beyond barebones proposals has emerged at this point.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 31, 2010 5:53 AM Kathryn Kathryn  says:

Hi all, Kathryn here- marketing associate at Adroll.com. I'm glad the NY Times article Sunday sparked so much conversation about remarketing. It's an amazing marketing tool, and I'm a firm believer that with total transparency and information flow, customers and advertisers alike will benefit. What's great is, you are being served ads about products and services that interest you, and advertisers aren't wasting time spamming people who couldn't care less. It's crucial though that advertisers don't overexpose and overwhelm shoppers online- so with that in mind, we here at Adroll.com place very strict rules on how often a consumer is served an ad. The point, even from a marketing standpoint, isn't to hound consumers, but provide them with the platform to shop almost effortlessly online. Small and medium-sized businesses are able to manage their own targeted ads through a user-friendly interface, and are getting more reach for their buck. It's a win-win for all. For anyone interested in knowing more, please visit us: http://blog.adroll.com/


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