Behavior-Based Internet Advertising – Who Is Watching You?

Have you anytime been surfing the web and appear aloft Internet commercial that provides a absolute band-aid for something that you’ve been researching lately? Did you anticipate that it ability be accompanying to your computer cookies, or did you book it up to serendipity?

The actuality is, it about absolutely wasn’t a coincidence. Behavior-based Internet commercial is a almost new and actual able way for advertisers to get their bulletin in foreground of abeyant buyers that they apperceive to be qualified. The catechism is, how do they apperceive that the surfer is qualified?

The advertisers apperceive this because the Internet commercial arrangement is tracking the surfers’ online activity. With tracking, advertisers apperceive what sites you like. They apperceive what searches you make. They acquire profiled you, and, clashing in absolute life, profiling on the web is AOK — so far.

Check Your Computer for Cookies

Before we get into the acknowledged issues involved, conceivably a added analogue of the technology is in order. Most (but not all) behavioral Internet commercial is based on computer “cookies.” These computer accolade are tiny files that are placed on your apparatus if you appointment assertive websites. In the simplest form, you go to a web page. An advertiser has a bare spot, or placeholder, for a banderole ad. But instead of confined up just any banderole ad, the advertiser parses through your computer for accolade to ascertain your brand and dislikes, and afresh you are fed Internet commercial based on your online behavior.

For some people, this is no big deal. They like Internet commercial to be targeted against them, and they don’t apperception computer cookies. For others, it’s a little Orwellian and creepy. This leads us to the abundant debate.

Opt-in or Opt-out?

One big catechism to be bound is whether ultimately this blazon of Internet commercial will be “opt-in” (meaning that a user has to assurance up in adjustment to acquire targeted ads) or “opt-out” (meaning that a user will acquire targeted ads unless they accurately ask not to).

It shouldn’t abruptness anyone to apperceive which ancillary the advertisers are on. If authoritative regulators eventually crave that all Internet commercial be “opt-in”, the industry will be acutely restricted. My assumption is that it would accredit behavior-based Internet commercial to a binding amateur in the online business world.

The aloofness advocates, naturally, are on the added ancillary of the fence. The all-inclusive majority of humans acquire that their online activity is not getting tracked, they say. Why should they acquire to yield a specific activity in adjustment to abolish computer accolade and to not be tracked and profiled?

A Do Not Clue List?

Recently, a accumulation of nine customer apostle groups proposed the abstraction of a “Do Not Track” account for Internet advertising, which would plan in a agnate appearance as the “Do Not Call” account works today. Naturally, this is an “Opt-out” scenario, but because of the absorption that the accumulation of such a account would bring, it may be a acceptable accommodation amid advertiser and advocate.

How to Anticipate Getting Tracked

It is adequately simple to anticipate getting tracked by advertisers. You artlessly anticipate your apparatus from accepting computer cookies. Go to START, SETTINGS, CONTROL PANEL and bang on INTERNET OPTIONS afresh the PRIVACY tab. (Note that these instructions acquire you are alive with a Windows XP system. The action will be similar, however, for added operating systems.) Slide the bar all the way to the top to area it says “Block All Cookies.”

However, you should be acquainted that this change may absolute your Internet experience. Some websites will not affectation appropriately (or at all) if you do not acquire computer cookies. In my experience, at atomic one of the top 5 seek engines will not plan at all. Added engines acquire bound functionality if you block Internet advertising.

Even if you do administer to about-face off your computer cookies, don’t blow simple just yet.

The Newest Technology

Recently, it was appear that a Silicon Valley startup called NebuAd has created a new technology that does not crave computer cookies. Under the NebuAd model, the aggregation teams up anon with account providers and installs accessories anon at their accessories that allows them to clue the behavior of individuals on the web, even if their apparatus does not acquire computer cookies. This, of course, requires Internet Account Providers (ISPs) to embrace the new technology; naturally, they are accustomed a section of the Internet commercial acquirement that is generated. Whether or not any of the above players embrace this technology will apparently depend abundantly on accessible outcry, or abridgement thereof. Of course, if this does become the newest behavioral targeting standard, we will acknowledgment afresh to the catechism of “Opt-in” or “Opt-out.”


The approaching of this access to Internet commercial is unclear, and will depend abundantly on accessible apprenticeship and reaction. Will humans see amount in accepting targeted ads, even if it agency that about there is an “anonymous” contour of them sitting on a server? Will they feel affronted and advance for a absolute ban? It’s harder to say.

Will this new access be the afterlife of the Internet as we apperceive it? Apparently not. But it should at atomic be interesting.

(C) Medium Blue 2007