Consumer Concerns Still Abound Regarding Behavioral Advertising

Patrick Avery

I use a lot for buying gifts, books, movies and music. One of the things I like about the site is that if I search for a book on a certain topic, it will also give me recommendations for other books on that topic. It takes into account what I enter into the search fields and then, based on my search behavior, gives me other ideas of items I might like.


What Amazon does is an example of behavior tracking. Since I like that site, I don't mind it examining my every move. But I don't feel that way about every site I visit.


Online behavioral tracking and advertising enables businesses to deliver custom messages to customers as they browse the Internet. But many consumers and privacy advocacy organizations have raised questions about the implications of online behavioral advertising for consumer privacy, something Jordan Prokopy, a privacy specialist at Anzen Consulting Inc., addresses in a guest column for IT Business Edge.


Studies from UC Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania reveal that 66 percent of Americans object to online advertising tailored to their interests, and the number rises to approximately 80 percent once consumers are informed of the means by which advertisers collect their data for targeted advertising. The major concerns for these consumers are the transparency of the companies tracking behavior and their handling of confidential data.


The Federal Trade Commission is keeping an eye on this issue but Prokopy says there are several things businesses can do upfront. Those efforts include:

  • Post transparent privacy and data management policies, which are easy to understand (i.e., avoid overly legalistic language) and easy to locate.
  • Provide consumers with clear and concise notices about how their information is handled (outside of the privacy policy statement) and respect consumer choices by providing them with the ability to opt out of the collection, use, or disclosure of their information.
  • Employ data security practices that protect the online data you collect from consumers and ensure this information does not fall into the wrong hands.


For those businesses looking to learn more about behavioral advertising and tracking, take a look at an excerpt from Behavioral Analytics for Dummies in the Knowledge Network. This book includes information about how to use behavioral analytics, how behavioral analytics is different from other analytics, and how to apply behavioral analytics to business strategy.

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