KDnuggets Home » Polls » Behavioral targeting - effective or evil? Poll (Oct 2009)

Behavioral targeting - effective or evil? Poll

Targeted on-line advertising or behavioral targeting involves tracking consumers across multiple sites and is used by many on-line companies today giving higher click rate. However, a recent UPenn Study study found that most consumers are opposed to targeted on-line advertising. Your opinion: [68 votes total]

Behavioral targeting is an invasion of privacy and should be outlawed (14) 21%
Behavioral targeting can be restricted but still be effective (28) 41%
Behavioral targeting works well and should not be tampered with (17) 25%
Don't care about Behavioral targeting (9) 13%


Sandro Saitta, BT is part of targeted OA
Interesting subject to discuss. I'm looking forward too seeing the results.
By the way, I think that BT is part of targeted online advertising (it is not equal). The targeting could be geographic, daypart, behavioral, etc.
I would also remove "across multiple sites" since BT can be done by following people on a unique website.

Chris Clifton, Privacy issues
Behavioral targeting can backfire, when people don't like what they are targeted with. Enabling effective specification and use of privacy preferences can alleviate this.

Gregory Piatesky-Shapiro, Editor
I agree with Tom that poll phrasing can be improved, but my goal was to highlight the tension between the widespread use and reported effectiveness of BT (and yes, it is frequently done across multiple sites or subdomains) and the public dislike of BT as a potential or actual invasion of privacy.

Tom, Behavioral Targeting
Your poorly constructed poll distorts your results. You've entangled BT's perceived effectiveness and invasiveness with its controllability.
The first choice "Behavioral targeting is an invasion of privacy AND should be outlawed" shows the problem. Those who believe it invades privacy may also recognize equally that outlawing it is both impossible and unenforceable. This is hardly an acceptable option, even when the other choices are not agreeable either.
Wouldn't it be better, for example, to replace the first with "Behavioral targeting's invasion of privacy is far worse than any benefit"? And the others need similar adjustments.
Efforts to regulate BT are probably hopeless, while improved, alternative product marketing is much more desirable and likely. We don't have to go down the rabbit hole of invading privacy -- with its fallout like hacker breeches, disgruntled employees, government abuses, etc.

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