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Targeting and profiling users on the Internet for advertising purpose

From the same series that aims to contribute to a better understanding regarding why privacy and personal data are so vulnerable in relation to the Internet and its adjacent services/platforms today, E-Crime Expert shows how targeting and profiling users on the Internet for advertising purpose it is done.

In order to sell advertising, the Social Network Services (SNS) need traffic and also to know what their users preferences are. As similar to TV or Radio advertising, where the commercials are addressed to a certain group of people based on age, sex, needs, preferences (i.e. milk, beauty products, cars, clothes), online advertising has the same goal. But because online the audience is much broader and the target is reached very fast, sometimes in real time, the advertising is offered or delivered differently and it opens huge potential exposure to the audience. In the case of TV advertising, companies provide advertisements and after the post-advertisement sales are monitored for a certain period of time to determine if the commercial clip was effective and reached its target audience.

The audience for TV advertising is established by market studies and questionnaires were the subjects are interviewed in person, anonymously and they have the opportunity to refuse to participate. In the case of online advertising, the profiles of the audience’s preferences are established mostly by the users’ behavior.

Also online and offline advertising are directly connected to the market shares in terms of revenue generated from advertising. In December 2008, according to Mary Meeker from Morgan Stanley publication’s chart named: “Media Time spent vs. Ad spent Out of Whack”, the traditional media which includes TV, radio, and newspapers it is accountable for 8% of the users’ time (in the US) but receives 20% of the advertising money when the online media (the Internet) is accountable for 29% of the user time (in the US) but receives just 8% from the advertising money.

These numbers will balance out between them in the coming five years but in order for the appropriate revenue to be reached and counter-balanced to reflect the real market situation, more online advertising will be generated and produced which implies different ways of approaching and delivering the advertising in order to meet the target (the customers).

More behavioral advertising could be generated along with better user profiling. For example, a user wants to buy something from an online store (which often are advertised or connected to SNS); the user logs in, and first he is presented with the options related to his previous purchases and shopping history on that particular online store. For example, someone shops for Nike shoes, and all the online options are related to the Nike brand based on his previous shopping history. By predicting the user’s preferences based on his shopping history, it is not always accurate because it could be the case that he uses a shared computer where his father regularly uses it, and their personal preferences are totally opposite. Providing a user with products or services based on his shopping history is called targeted advertising. This new type of advertising (i.e. targeted advertising) is seen on SNS and is based on users’ behavior, search history and preferences. However, it is not always the case that the subject’s behavior and search history lead to the subject’s preferences (e.g. the father uses his son’s computer).

The users are monitored for their web browsing history in an attempt to sell them specific products or advertising based on their known preferences. The question, which comes from this model of advertising, could be more complex in terms of: how can someone else’s personal preferences be used for targeted advertising without their acknowledgment?

Any questions can be submitted to: dan@e-crimeexpert.com

Additional information can be found at: www.e-crimeexppert.com

Do you feel monitored on the Internet? Does it ever happened to you to be surprised by the advertisng you were delivered on a particular site? Does the advertising changes to you when you are in a different location?

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  1. February 17, 2014 at 12:55

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